BY ALFRED PAGEPITU
LOCAL Gizo businessman Danny Kennedy is going out of his way to fight a war which authorities have seemingly raised the white flag on.
Mr Kennedy told Island Sun Gizo yesterday said that they are trying to collect Crown of Thorns starfish (COT), which are eating live corals, a mission which started last month.
He says everyday they collect hundreds, giving an example of Thursday last week’s haul; “on Thursday Carlson Eddie, collected another 57 and went back again and he collected another 28”.
“There needs to be a lot more awareness in the communities and those creatures are slowly eating away at their livelihoods and it seems we are at the only people/business in the country that is being proactive in trying to control them.
“Villagers close to Njari Island start with their dugouts from the village and work all the reefs out to Njari Island.
“I offered $1 for every COT collected, anywhere in the region of their village extending out west to Njari, Varu and Njingono Islands.”
He explained that the reefs in front of the village have lost their colour over the years, and points out that no one from the village have participated in the crusade against the COT.
Kennedy said he employs 12 collectors and last week removed 617 COTs.
However, he says there is much left to be done and more cooperation needed from villagers.
He acknowledges the family living on Varu Island, especially Mrs Noeleni on her first ever COT removal exercise, collecting 129 in a matter of four hours.
“On a sadder note, several of our staff reported that some areas east of Varu were totally dead due to the destruction from the COT.
“The Crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) naturally occur on coral reefs.
“They are corallivores and covered in long poisonous spines, they range in color from purplish blue to reddish-gray to green.
“They are generally 25-35 cm in diameter, although they can be as large as 80 cm.”
He said the Crown-of-thorns starfish are found throughout the Indo-Pacific region, occurring from the Red Sea and coast of East Africa, across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, to the west coast of Central America.