In December, Island Reach Project Coordinators Willie and Ronneth flew north to Malekula Island to continue working with communities we'd visited aboard RV Llyr earlier in the year. They had a busy couple of weeks working with members of the recently established Napi Nata Lili Environment Network in the NW and the Malamap Netan Netas network in the SE, setting up management committees and developing management plans for their conservation activities. December is also turtle nesting time in Vanuatu, and the team worked with communities in western Malekula, known as the "Turtle Coast," surveying nesting sites, tagging females, relocating nests jeopardized by coastal erosion, and building fences to protect nests from dogs. In all, they counted 83 nests!
In the SE, they surveyed reefs, counting key fish species and percentage of live coral, comparing these in the conserved areas with those in the open areas. They held several community meetings to present their findings and holding small group discussions to consider advantages and disadvantages, and opportunities and threats related to these conserved marine areas.
It was an exciting couples of weeks for the Island Reach team and we're all looking forward to returning later this year.
Meanwhile, Willie and Ronneth are preparing for their next IR expedition to the far north, remote Bank Islands in late January.