Locals observe coral day

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THREE green turtles were returned to sea on Saturday after being trapped in nets belonging to fishermen from Hula village, Central.
The release of the green turtles was a show to observe Coral Triangle Day in conjunction with World Oceans Day Saturday.
Cepa (Conservation and Environment Protection Authority) organised the event which began early with a coastal clean-up in 12 areas of the village.
The Climate Change Development Authority (CCDA) and National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) also took part in the event where 100 bags of rubbish were collected.
Cepa manager for marine and eco systems, and threatened species working group chairman Vagi Rei explained that green turtles were an endangered species and those caught at 25 years of age were still considered young.
Rei tagged the turtles before they were released, saying the purpose was to monitor their movement.
He said the turtles needed to complete their full cycle to grow into mature turtles where they would find resting and breeding places during their journey from PNG to Solomon Islands and Australia.
A mature turtle is 100 years old and can live longer. They are becoming endangered because of over hunting.
Rei warned that catching and selling of turtle meat was illegal.
“People caught catching and selling turtle meat will be fined K1,000 or face spending nine months in jail.”
Meanwhile, Mini Vagi, the Hula CDA (Community District Authority) women’s representative also raised concern that villagers continued to cut down mangrove for firewood causing depletion of reefs rich with fish and marine life.
Vagi said her people needed to change their “careless – don’t care attitude” towards the environment.
“God has blessed us richly with sea and land resources but our careless – don’t care attitude is not helping to sustain our marine resources. If we chop down a tree, we must plant another one,” she said.
Vagi stressed that she was happy to support Cepa and its work in protecting and conserving the environment; and will continue as a women leader to spread awareness.
Cepa marine programme officer Phelameya Haiveta said 100 bags of rubbish were collected earlier as part of the Cepa marine coastal clean up and audited by UPNG students to coincide with World Triangle Day in conjunction with World Oceans Day.
More than 300 volunteers including UPNG students, villagers and relevant government bodies took part in the coastal clean-up.
Haiveta said Cepa arranged for 200 mangrove seedlings to be given to Hula villagers to replant along their coastline.

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