Nusa Tupe research station boosts sustainability in the Solomons’ seas

The WorldFish Nusa Tupe Research Station

On the island of Nusa Tupe in the western Solomons, an unassuming building supports the lofty aim of sustaining marine resources.

The WorldFish Nusa Tupe Research Station was initially established as a field station for the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management in the 1980s, and it remained a research hub when the organisation later became WorldFish.

WorldFish, headquartered in Malaysia, operates in around 18 countries worldwide.

The Nusa Tupe station brings the organisation’s global mission — to improve livelihoods and food security through fisheries and aquaculture — to seas in Solomons Islands.

The team at the Nusa Tupe facility focuses on strengthening community-based resource management by finding alternative sources of income for coastal fishers.

They work with communities around Western Province to develop solutions and conduct awareness programs to promote the sustainable use of marine resources.

Regon Warren in what used to be a clam shell hatchery

Regon Warren has worked as the principal technical aid at the Nusa Tupe center since the late 1990s.

In that time, he’s seen the team undertake many programs.

After an earthquake and tsunami hit Western Province in April 2007, the facility was instrumental in assisting affected communities.

“We introduced to them how to grow corals to sell,” Mr Warren said. “We worked with Leona, a community in Vella La Vella island who have a conservation area. We supported them and will continue to provide them support.”

They also worked with residents of Satupaele in Sun Fly on Kolombangara island who have their own community resource management program.

The team is now involved in educating youth about the sustainable use of marine resources.

“We teach them so they, too, will go back and teach their own families and community,” Mr Warren said.

The research center is currently breeding Mozambique tilapia

Last week, the team conducted a training with 12 participants from Malaita Province.

It focused on community-based resource management and construction of a fish aggregating device, or FAD.

Trainer Meshach Sukulu said the participants will use the FADs as alternative fishing grounds when they establish management areas in their own communities.

“This will reduce the pressure fishermen put on the reefs,” he said. “We constructed a raft here at Satupaele and were able to deploy it at the same time, too. That was a hands-on experience for them.”

The final part of the training was conducting a catch per unit effort.

“We trained them to monitor how much catch they got from the FADS and what species,” Mr Sukulu said. “So far the training ran smoothly, and we all learnt a lot.”

The techniques are especially important for communities in Malaita Province, he said.

As the team works to sustain marine resources in Western Province and other parts of the Solomons, they keep close watch over the waters surrounding the research center.

There, clam shells, fish, beche-de-mer and other marine life is abundant.

By Kikiva Tuni

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