[ASC-media] Press release - Australians help Solomon Islands protect marine life

Louise Goggin louise.goggin at crcreef.com
Wed May 5 08:12:34 EST 2004

Press release - The Nature Conservancy - 5 May 2004

Australians help the Solomon Islands protect their marine life

Australian scientists are leading a team of local and international experts surveying the marine biodiversity and natural resources of the Solomon Islands.

"The underwater life of the Solomon Islands is one of our region's great mysteries," according to Dr Alison Green, Marine Science Coordinator (Asia Pacific) for The Nature Conservancy, who is leading the survey. "The Solomon Islands could be within the 'Coral Triangle' - an area with the highest diversity of corals anywhere in the world. This survey will find out whether the Solomon Islands are within the 'Coral Triangle'. It will also identify areas that are a high priority for marine conservation."

"The survey will be conducted by a team of local and international experts who will survey corals, fish, seagrass, trochus shell and beche-de-mer as well as whales and dolphins. Never before has such a comprehensive, large-scale survey been conducted in the Solomon Islands," said Dr Green.

"The survey is very important for people of the Solomon Islands. The majority of Solomon Island communities depend on the natural marine resources for their livelihood and as a means of generating income," according to Mr Paul Lokani, Director of The Nature Conservancy's Melanesia Program, which is organising the survey. "In many regions of the Solomon Islands, these resources are being put under mounting pressure as human populations rise, and individuals increasingly turn to the natural resources as a means of raising cash."

"The survey will find out the condition of these resources," Mr Lokani said. "It will let us know which species are plentiful and which species are already overfished. This information is vital for government agencies, non-government organisations and resource owners in assisting and focusing their efforts to develop and manage Solomon Islands resources in a sustainable way."

The five-week survey (from 13 May until 19 June), will circle the main island chain of the Solomon Islands, departing from Honiara on Guadalcanal, and steaming northwest to survey the islands of Santa Isabel and Choiseul before steaming south and surveying the islands of New Georgia, Malaita, Makira and finally returning to Honiara on Guadalcanal. 

The survey is a cooperative project by the Solomon Islands Government, local and international non-government conservation organisations (particularly The Nature Conservancy, World Wide Fund for Nature, Conservation international and Wildlife Conservation Society) and Australian scientific institutions including the Australian Institute of Marine Science, CRC Reef Research Centre, Queensland Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries, and APEX Environmental Pty Ltd. 

For more information:
Dr Alison Green, The Nature Conservancy, 07 4729 8490, agreen at tnc.org
Louise Goggin, Media Liaison, CRC Reef, 07 4729 8404, mobile: 0402 243116, louise.goggin at crcreef.com

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