Under the Vava’u Ocean Initiative in partnership with the Waitt Institute and Ministry of Fisheries, we are excited and delighted for the upcoming launch of the Special Management Area (SMA) Environmental Ambassador Program (S.E.A).
Special Management Areas (SMAs) are a community based fisheries program under the Ministry of Fisheries since 2002, which allows for communities to manage near-shore marine habitats and resources, within each gazetted boundary is a Fish Habitat Reserve (FHR) or no-take area as well as ongoing development of aquaculture areas that support livelihoods.
The S.E.A program is a joint initiative to further shared knowledge and field activities for community monitoring on environmental issues such as land based pollution and water quality and threats (overfishing and climate change) but will also cover knowledge on coral reef habitats, intertidal areas and mangroves.
Over the next 4 months, each outer island SMA community in Vava’u will select a representative for the ambassador program to engage in a 2-week initiative (2 communities represented at a time) alongside VEPA and Ministry of Fisheries staff with a final barbecue (our favourite sausage sizzle) for all participants at the end of the project. This is a paid internship program approved by the CEO, Dr Halafihi of the Ministry of Fisheries under the project Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Vava’u Ocean Initiative.
Field activities will include a range of basic monitoring programs that ambassadors can conduct in their own SMA such as monitoring and managing Crown of Thorn (‘Alamea) populations, intertidal habitats, coral health, water quality and waste management practices sharing information and knowledge about current practices and status that will further the SMA management program.
Ambassadors will also share activities in data collection on other programs such as fish gut surveys for micro plastics and invasive species management to show the different local approaches to supporting monitoring and evaluation of the environment and habitats.
So yeap! We are excited and can’t wait to share the upcoming activities and stories and to learn further from the outer island communities about their experiences.