The three days’ workshop is organized by the Isabel Provincial Government (IPG) in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) office.
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management as well as Minister for Maringe/Kokota Dr. Culwick Togamana was the guest of honour who officially opens the workshop.
In his key note address, Dr. Togamana said he is very pleased to see representatives from amongst communities that work in partnership with TNC attending the workshop.
“I look forward to listening to your stories and experience working to conserve leatherback turtle, a declared endangered species since the 1970’s,” he said.
He then thanked TNC and Isabel Provincial Government (IPG) for organising what he terms as a very important programme with regards to conservation of one of the endangered species not only in Solomon Islands but globally.
“I know there have been some outstanding conservation works carried out for many years in Arnavon, Sasakolo, Litoghahira and other nesting grounds on Isabel Province for various turtle species including this iconic species,” he said.
In fact, he said past scientific assessments complimenting local knowledge had shown Isabel Province to host some of the most active nesting beaches for leatherback turtles in the country.
“Satellite tracking haves shown some stocks of leatherback turtles feeding as far north as California, USA would make a treacherous migration south just past the equator covering thousands of miles journey to nest on Haevo beach, of which I am closely associated with,” he said.
“This morning, it is encouraging to see all partners coming together, a splendid and unique opportunity to listen and learn from each other’s story and experiences in our collective effort to manage and conserve this endangered species,” he added.
Dr. Togamana said he understands many of the participants especially rangers do spend countless hours in the dead of the night, silently patrolling beaches, keeping a watch alone, wondering when leatherback turtle landed on the beach to nest.
“And when leatherback turtle come ashore to nest, you sometimes would remove the eggs to a hatchery site to increase the chances for the egg to hatch and assist young turtles to reach the sea from the hatchery,” he said.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony was Isabel Provincial Secretary John Mark Lokumana who said turtle conservation has already placed Isabel Province on the map in the global front, a result that comes through such working together efforts.
He then welcomes the participants from Honiara and surrounding communities in Isabel including the Minister Dr Togamana for the workshop.
Meanwhile, TNC Country Director-Solomon Islands Program Willie Atu said the workshop is aimed at bringing together relevant stakeholders to discuss the current state of Leatherback Conservation and management in Isabel province as well as to discuss re-commencement of monitoring and management of the Leatherback nesting population at Sasakolo, including signing of memorandum of understanding between relevant stakeholders.
“Not only that, the workshop will also allow stakeholders to discuss future directions to formalize, improve, and expand Leatherback Conservation and management across Isabel Province,” he said.
Participants include those from the Head office in Honiara and those from other conservation groups within the Isabel province covering the three constituencies.
The workshop which started on Tuesday will conclude on Thursday 23rd July 2020.
By IAN M. KAUKUI