Villagers fight to protect reef their

National, Normal

The National, Thursday June 20th, 2013


GILNIT villagers in West New Britain have engaged a marine biologist to undertake an independent assessment of the destruction of coral reef in their traditional fishing ground.

This follows the recent destruction by an excavator from a logging company that was clearing the reef to build a log-pond near the village, which is situated between Kandrian and Gloucester.

The villagers accused the company of environmental destruction and Forest and Climate Change Minister Patrick Pruaitch promised to send in a team to investigate.

However, the delay in the assessment has prompted the villagers to seek assistance from the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights which engaged a marine biologist who carried out an inspection on June 6-7.

Gilnit village representative Tavonga Francis said they hoped to receive a report within two weeks.

Francis said his people want an explanation from the Forestry Minister and Environment and Conservation Department regarding a report on the investigation.

 “We are asking if the National Government has done an assessment and if so what are they going to do about it?”

He added that the customary owners of the coral reef were concerned because of its cultural value and a valuable source of food for the villagers.

“The logging and the excavation of the reefs has resulted in a decrease and loss of food source for them.”

Francis also said the landowner company involved in the logging project tried to suppress them but the villagers stood their ground.