Cletus Pita from Shortland islands in the Western Solomons, is one of the recipients of the 40th Solomon Islands Independence Anniversary awards this year.
”It is a bronze medal, for long, dedicated and distinguished service to the government, people of Solomon Islands, and the region in the field of marine science, aqua culture and community-based marine resource management,” he told SIBC Online.
Mr Pita 57, said he was very surprised when he learnt he was a recipient of the award.
“One of my sons texted me and told me. I am very happy, a kind of a very joyful feeling inside my heart because all the work I’ve been doing has been recognized.
Mr Pita is passionate about conserving marine resources and working with communities on community-based marine resource management.
His interest started when he was first employed by the International Center for Living Aquatic Resource Management, ICLAM, now known as WorldFish.
“I saw that rural communities have a vast area of sea and land, and need to find alternative ways to survive throughout their livelihood.”
Since then, Mr Pita worked with a lot of communities in the country.
The WorldFish Station in Nusa Tupe Western Province
“We started with giant clams, going to communities in Marau, Ngella and Russell islands, Western Province mainly Vella-La-Vella, Gizo, Rendova and Seghe in the Marovo lagoon.
“In the region I worked with Samoa, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.”
Mr Pita said the local communities are taking significant steps to manage their marine resources.
“A lot of them have created their own constitutions to look after their own resources and that’s good.
“The Western Provincial Government also supports the communities and it’s a really encouraging way for them to take ownership of their resources.”
Mr Pita attained his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji and a Graduate Certificate of education.
While working for WorldFish, he studied for his post-graduate studies through distance education in Australia and received his Master’s degree in 1999.
After that, he did a Fisheries Environmental Statistics course.
Mr Pita retired from WorldFish in 2013 after 25 years.
“Now, I would like to encourage the young generation to recognize what we have and strive for a good education. Then they can take over in managing their resources now and in the future.