By Mike Puia
THE dangerous starfish, crown of thorns, is posing a serious threat to the Western province’s underwater.
Most people do not realise the seriousness of the problem since they live on the land. Divers and those who are familiar with the invasive sea creature know the problem.
Diving expert in the province, Dive Gizo, is one of those who know the threat posed by crown of thorns.
Dive Gizo owner, Danny Kennedy, described crown of thorns as “a serious threat to the province’s underwater”.
Danny explains, crown of thorns is a killer of corals, and if corals are killed the beauty of the underwater will be gone and fishes and other sea creatures around will move away.
He said it will affect tourism as many tourists that visit the country want to see beautiful corals and Western province offers some of the country’s world class underwater.
Danny, who started Dive Gizo 32 years ago, said the only natural killer of crown of thorns is conch shell (called buki in the Kolombangara dialect) but many people in the province are harvesting the shell for home decoration.
He said oversea countries are aware of how serious the problem is and their governments are putting in lots of money into efforts to fight the starfish.
Danny said recently the Australian government injected $400 million into efforts to eradicate underwater invasive species.
He said this shows the seriousness of the problem and how governments overseas take serious steps to fight invasive sea creatures.
Danny said this is something he wants to see the national and provincial governments taking an interest on.
Dive Gizo has been fighting the starfish since it started operations in the province.
It also pays those who kill and brought the starfish to its office. It pays a starfish for $1.
The starfish is pulled off from a coral and buried inland to avoid it from producing thousands more.
Recently, Dive Gizo handed $10,000 toward a major clean-up that would take place in Gizo next week.
During this clean-up, there will be a clean-up team that would also be cleaning crown of thorns in selected areas around Gizo and picnic islands.