Onogou Island on Isabel to be conserved

Onogou Island, an Island also known to those from Malaita as Ramos Island.
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THE Nomi Teiga Conservation group consisting of Gao speaking people from Isabel Province have established a platform to conserve Onogou Island.

A first step towards conserving Onogou Island and its cultural heritage begun last week following a one-day workshop and conservation awareness held at Poro village in the Gao district.

Both Traditional and tribal Chiefs and women leaders from Ole to Gurumei villages were briefed with the importance of conservation and protection of resources for future generations.

Officials from Isabel Provincial government, the department of Environment and Fisheries played a key role in the awareness program.

Team leader, Willie Eta said conservation is very important given the growing population which stretched the existing resources.

He adds that the threats cause by logging is very high and that the only way to preserve resource is through conservation.

“There are five ways of conserving and protecting our resources, you can choose which one you prefer but make sure an outcome must be achieved which is to protect and rehab nature extinct species,” Eta said.

A Fisheries Officer based at Tatamba said marine resources such as fish have been depleting within the Gao boundary and it is timely to invest on conservation.

Member of Provincial Assembly for Kaloka Ward, Holland Sikou said the establishment is an approach his people wants to undertake to move away from destructive activities to a more ecofriendly development.

He said the conservation initiative not only looks at conservation specifically, but also creating opportunities to boost tourism as resilience towards COVID-19.

According to the Provincial Government Act, Onogou Island lays under the Isabel Provincial waters, however, Sikou said the initiative is open for those who have cultural and traditional ties with Gao people and the Island.

He adds that the initiative not only promotes the protection of ecosystem of the island but also rehabilitate and restore the degraded or threatened species on the Island.

Sikou said resources under protection are; clam shell, trocars, beech-de-mar and fish.

Using of fishing nets will also be prohibited or destroying of tabu sites so as the inhabitation of the island is prohibited.

“We are open for strategic discussion on this matter for the betterment of our future generations, we are more than willing to strengthen our relationships and connection to those that has history connection to GAO families and tribes.

“We are ocean people and so we need each other’s arm to keep us float us we face global provoking issues,” he said.

“This first step of awareness is the beginning of miles of consultation and steps to come before we find the right category and management principles of conservation to be practised on our island Onogou,” Sikou added.       

Isabel province is known for choosing severely destructive development activities such as logging and mining industries, Isabel province is increasingly reliant on logging and other resources for revenue.

Forest sector alone makes up 59.66% of Isabel provincial budget last year which Isabel likely losses around 80% of natural forest.