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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

GVI Marine receives blessings and support from High Chief

Marine Volunteers and Staff with Ratu Epeli

On February 7th, the Marine team met Ratu Epeli, the High Chief of the Takina (kingdom), at Oarsmans Bay lodge to present a Sevu Sevu (traditional ceremony in which an offering is made in exchange for a blessing).

Marine Team staff Tai, Candice, and Eddie and Marine Volunteers, Alice, Dalton, Matthew, Iain, Lydia, Kristina, along with country director, Dan, and three elders representing the Endedola Settlement (home to Tovuto Base) presented the traditional offering of Kava Waka (wrapped kava root) to the High Chief.

A discussion followed in which Ratu Epeli charted the history of his time as chief and the changing state of attitudes towards the implementation and enforcement of the Tabu zones (no fishing grounds) in the region. Ratu Epeli explained that he was fully committed to the preservation of the local environment and had been engaged in the active enforcement of the Nacula Tabu zone for many years. `

Ratu Epeli Explained that he was on the verge of lifting the Tabu and ending all enforcement of reef protection in the region as it had become too difficult to manage and enforce and most villages had lifted their own Tabu's over the years.

After hearing the strategies presented by the GVI Marine team, the community based focus of the intiative, and the intention to interweave our work with the education program, Ratu Epeli happily passed on his blessings and full support of GVI’s research in the region and confirmed that with this new support he would continue to enforce the few remaining tabu areas in the district.

In addition to this, Ratu, has offered the research team exclusive access to dive the few remaining tabu areas and use the protected areas to run base line surveys. This will enable us to form a base line from which to compare the difference in fish stocks and biodiversity between protected areas and open fishing grounds.

Ratu Epeli, invited the team for lunch and said that he would look forward to hearing frequent updates from the GVI team as the program progresses and the initiative evolves.

This was an incredibly positive meeting that confirmed the validity of our conservation efforts in the Yasawas and the presence of the community support needed to make it successful.