Babanga community is on a beautiful small sand-banked island lying 2 kilometers east of Gizo town.
It has a population of no more than a thousand people. Initially predominantly I-Kiribati, the community is gradually becoming a melting pot of race and culture in peaceful coexistence.
Fatboys and Sanbis Resort are on the very island where most of the fishermen in the community were fortunate to get extra income and benefits.
Fishing has been a main source of income to support them in their livelihood and day to day survival.
Owning an Out Boat Motors (OBM) canoe and engine is a huge thing that makes a real fisherman fish around the waters outside the blue seas.
It is estimated as 10 plus canoe that the fisherman in Babanga Island owned compared it to the Titiana Community. So it means by many canoes, many fish to catch to be sold at the Gizo market.
However, in an interview with some members of the Mbabanga community, few islanders expressed concerns over the lack of sustainable income-generating projects to support a rapidly increasing population.
It is a cause for concern given multiple challenges imposed on family livelihood and community incapacity to contain associate socio-economic issues.
There is limited arable land and water for growing root crops and vegetables and therefore reliant heavily on sea resources to meet daily basic needs.
In an interview with the Solomon Star Gizo, a fisherman quoted “I just want to know what are the functions of the ministry of fisheries, and how can they help us on what they do, because for me as one of the member of the island growing I didn’t complete my education, fishing is the only source of income but with the challenges we the islanders faced day to day it is really difficult for us, especially when our marine resources are decreasing’’
A woman from the island had reported that she had seen other community had been blessed with projects especially with the Fishing Aggregated devices (FADs) installed, to protect their marine ecosystem and to be able to sustain the reefs to recover from exploitations created by overfishing, pollution, climate change, and development and also many other factors affecting their marine ecosystem.
Namu Avo women from Lord Howe married to Babanga Fisherman wonder how to apply for those projects and who can they see to address their issues faced in the community.
According to the Gizo Fisheries Office says for the provincial government division stated “that there are ongoing issues within the provincial government itself.
‘Lately, we haven’t been able to fulfill some of the projects we planned,’’ he said.
He said most of our work done comes from the provincial financial budget.
He said that the mother Ministry (MFR) also helps us in infrastructures such as building a fisheries center and storage.
The provincial Ministry of fisheries had also received support from other NGOs that are currently operating in the Western province.
In an interview with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Fisheries officer, Ms. Daisa Aleziru said that WWF is providing support to the community through micro-finance for women and conservation the current ongoing creating Fishing Aggregated Device (FADs).
Ms. Aleziru stated “these two components already taking place at the four communities.
She said they are currently working with microfinance, to help the women to look for other ways for income rather than stressing the reef.
‘’Secondly, to support the community to conserve the marine resources and also creating those Fishing Aggregate Devices it if also for the same reason to properly manage the resources”.
She further added there is a process for any community that wants to apply for our support.
‘’First, the community has to agree and write a letter to the office and we will arrange a time to meet with community and at the same time do an assessment to the community also at the proposed site,’’ she adds
Other than any NGOs operating in the western province WWF is willing to support any interested community but through the right process, the WWF office is open to the public and willing to help anyone who is interested.
There are also many local fisherman and women in the neighboring islands in Gizo Western Province continues to call for assistance in terms of projects in Fishery to help and support in their fishing activities.
BY ULUTAH GIZO
GIZO NEWS BUREAU