Uni to use island for research

Youth & Careers

FOURTH-year fisheries students at the University of Natural Resources and Environment are compiling data that would be used to develop an agreement with a nearby local island community.
Fisheries lecturer Job Opu said the students were collecting data to develop a memorandum of understanding between the university and the people of Vurar Island.
The agreement would allow the students to use the island for studies and enable the university to assist the islanders with any training needs.
The research proposal agreement would be assessed.
Opu said the islanders had hosted students in the past for marine and fisheries practical lessons.
Vurar Island is a 10-minute boat ride from Tokunar Transit Lodge in Lungalunga, Gazelle, East New Britain. Its pristine marine environment was an incredible natural living laboratory that fisheries and marine students were privileged to use.
Opu said there were plans to submit the MoU to the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa) so that Vurar Island was made a Marine Protected Area to protect its rich marine biodiversity.
He said this was important because there had been cases of poaching of marine resources from the area by the people from the mainland.
Nine students went to Vurar Island on Sunday for the initial reconnaissance visit to develop sampling methodologies.
They will conduct research on coral reefs, sea grass, mangroves and the socio-ecological impacts on the use of marine resources.
Student Marzena Marinjembi, who did a preliminary assessment on marine species in mangroves, said the group checked coral growth, sea grass, starfish and species of fish at six different sites.
Bernita Watt, who is conducting socio-ecological study, interviewed a number of islanders to find out the use and benefits of marine resources.