NATURE

Weekender

Turtle guardians of Lissenung Island

IMAGINE being asked to watch turtles hatch. Definitely an offer no one would refuse. In order to witness it you would have to travel to a picturesque island resort about 25 minutes by speed boat off Kavieng town in the New Ireland.
The island is called Lissenung, translated to “place of rest” in the local Tigak language. It certainly carries that vibe through its natural beauty combined with the contemporary and stylishly laid out bungalows that line the Island.
It would probably take you less than an hour to walk around the whole Island, which mind you is surrounded by a beautiful reef and turquoise waters.
On arrival you will be warmly greeted by resort owners Dietmar and Ange Amon who although originate from Austria and Australia have come to call New Ireland home. Both with diving backgrounds and experience in the Tourism sector, it was this common interest that inevitably brought the couple together; 15 years on they have been inseparable.
Environmental conservationists at heart they walk the talk with everything they do, advocating for the natural environment to be left alone with minimal human impact. This is one of the main reasons why they were naturally drawn to the rescuing of the critically endangered Hawksbill turtles.
“It all began when a turtle expert from New Zealand visited us and started telling us about how turtle numbers were going down because they were being hunted by the locals for food. And when we actually witnessed locals collecting the turtle eggs from one of the Islands called Raul, that’s when we knew we had to intervene. We asked them for some, brought them to Lissenung and allowed them to hatch in a secure location,” recalled Ange.
“Everything we know about turtles has been self-taught through our own research, time and resources.”
On Saturday, Jan 16, guests from the nearby Nusa resort along with Lissenung’s guests were given a rare opportunity to witness the hatching of 89 baby turtles. The air was filled with excitement as everyone including wide eyed little children anticipated the arrival of the baby turtles. The turtle eggs had been placed in a raised sand box at the back of their office some 59 days ago.
Ange placed her hands over the circled area and gently lifted the sand and moments later one tiny turtle appeared, then another and another as she kept digging deeper into the sand pit. There was no shortage of “oohs, aahs” and “see how cute they are” as the little Hawksbill turtles emerged, scurrying out ready to take on life. Then a moment of silence was commanded by Ange: “OK everyone, stop talking! We need to count them.” There were 89, the magic number.
After Dietmer recorded information on their biodata the turtles were placed in an open eski ready to be released into the ocean. But not until sun down.
The evenings are chosen to release the turtles into the ocean to ensure safe passage, away from sea birds that might swoop down and gobble the turtles.
The wait to watch the turtles being released into the water was worth it. Everyone lined up on either side forming a passage way.
“Switch your flash lights off please,” called out Dietmar. Ange stood in the water with a flash light creating a guide for the turtles to follow while Dietmar tipped the esky over. Their fate now in the hands of nature as God had always intended it to be.
Since the couple started rescuing turtle eggs in 2013, they have released close to 15,000 turtles into the ocean. They continue to create awareness any chance they get on the critically endangered Hawksbill turtles.
The highly migratory turtles are protected by a number of international agreements but that protection is useless if awareness is not created at the village level. The couple would like to see more engagement by fisheries and other maritime authorities to protect the turtles from extinction.
For visitors wishing to witness the hatching of the turtles you can contact them on info@lissenung.com

  • Story and picture by the New Ireland government media unit.

A section of the 5km high voltage line between Waikakum and Yangisako in Maprik erected by Pacific Energy.

Maprik connected to power grid

By BRADLEY MARIORI
IN PNG, power grids are restricted to urban areas, and supply is often unreliable and represents a high percentage of household expenditure.
Lack of access to affordable, reliable power is limiting economic growth in urban areas and constraining growth in smaller urban centers.
The National Energy Policy 2016-2020, in line with the Vision 2050 recognises the need to manage the energy sector in a manner that is efficient and sustainable with the overall objective to ensure affordable, competitive and reliable supply of energy to meet national and provincial development needs, while protecting and conserving the environment with the aim at promoting 100 per cent electricity usage from renewable energy by 2050.
In addition, the Medium Term Development Plan 3 (MTDPIII) aims at increasing the power generation by sustainable energy source from current 4.4 per cent to 11.25 per cent by year 2022, while aiming to increase the household electrification rate from 17 per cent to 33 per cent.
State-owned entity PNG Power Limited (PPL) is the major generator, supplier and regulator of electricity across Papua New Guinea. To meet the ever-increasing demand for electricity, PPL has signed up power purchase agreements with a number of independent power providers (IPPs) to supply its grids especially in main centers.
Yet the need for affordable, reliable and sustainable power sources across PNG within smaller centers and provinces is addressed in small steps. In East Sepik, efforts are being made to connect all district centres through the engagement of a private contractor.
Pacific Energy Support Limited, a locally-owned company in East Sepik is now taking up the challenge to address the ongoing energy issues faced in the rovince.
Founder and managing director Timothy Koris, says his company is now working on a mini-hydro power project, with the aim to improve electricity output and connectivity in East Sepik.
According to research, Papua New Guinea currently relies heavily on fuel oil and diesel to generate electricity, despite its abundant gas, geothermal, hydro and solar energy potential that could not only meet its domestic energy requirements but also supply reliable and cost-effective power to its neighbours, if exploited sustainably.
In taking up the challenge to drive this government agenda forward especially for East Sepik, Pacific Energy Support is now embarking on building a mini hydropower system in Wewak to supplement the existing PPL supply.
Hydroelectric energy, also called hydroelectric power or hydroelectricity, is a form of energy that harnesses the power of water in motion – such as water flowing over a waterfall – to generate electricity. People have used this force for millennia.
According to Pacific Energy Support project director Nigel Hulambia, the company is now way into its feasibility studies to determine the viability of the project as its IPP proposal for nonrenewable energy concepts with PPL.
He says the Passam mini hydro project initiated by the company back in 2016 is targeted at signing a power purchase agreement with PPL to supply to supply the PPL grids once successful.
PPL Wewak branch manager Bustin Joseph in an interview revealed that the current capacity in supplying the township of Wewak and other surrounding areas is yet to meet the necessary demand.
However, additional load is expected in the province especially with the implementation of PPL’s rural electrification programme as well as increasing industrial activities that the province anticipates to unfold over the next five years.
Depending on the outcome of the studies, it is estimated K15 million is needed to complete the hydro power facility, aiming at generating 2.1mW of renewable and clean energy.
Pacific Energy Support managing director and electrical engineer Koris says the company, despite taking the calculated risks, believes that the project will be a breakthrough in the renewable energy sector for East Sepik. He says the company has so far invested over K200,000 towards the initial stages of the feasibility studies with the installation of a remote monitoring station at Passam in Wewak District, for hydrology testing and data collection.
Through this monitoring station water volume and flow rates will be remotely monitored by hydrology experts in Sydney, Australia for a period of nine months.
Since its inception in 2015, Pacific Energy Support Ltd has been engaged in a number of rural electrification projects in East Sepik including a 5km high voltage line between Waikakum and Yangisako in Maprik District.
The company was also responsible for the complete rehabilitation of the Moem Barracks power transformers in 2017 as well as other rural electrification projects in Yangoru-Saussia District.