Port Vila, Vanuatu – The success of the Crab Bay Resource Management Initiative in pacific island nation of Vanuatu is an assurance of MDG (Millennium Development Goals) achievement in the region said Ms Virisila Raitamata, Leader of a UNDP Fiji Multi-Country Office delegation that is on one-week Integrated Mission to Vanuatu.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony of the Equator Prize finalist certificate Ms Raitamata said the use of participatory processes to encourage the whole community in all resource management decisions is very encouraging.

“The participation of women is vital to this process. Women play a central role in harvesting of marine resources and women need to be continually involved in the long term management of the shore resources.”

With the closure of six hundred hectares of fishing area and the provision of village based education in sustainable resource management, this initiative has successfully replenished the local grab population, Ms Raitamata said.

She said with over 90 percent of the community involved in the project, the number of crab burrows has increased eightfold and the number of Trochi (seashells) has grown fivefold in only two years.

“The revitalized marine supply has increased the income for the community which has gone largely to children’s schools fees and basic health services”.

She said the shift to land-development for garden crops and other agricultural produce; the restriction on use of mangrove for firewood or housing; the continuous use of traditional local knowledge and capacity-building with the local community are areas that are central to UNDP’s environment initiatives. The Equator Prize, she said is a prestigious biennial international award of the Equator Initiative, which recognises outstanding local community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation of biodiversity.

“The Equator Initiative is a partnership that brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, business and local initiatives to build the capacity and raise the profile of sustainable communities in development countries within the equatorial belt to achieve the Millennium
Development Goals”.

She said it aims to champion and support community level projects that link conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity with economic development.

“Though this initiative was not selected as a winner, the organizers have said that all finalists are winners” she said when presenting the certificate to the Honorable Maxime Korman Carlot, the Minister for Lands, Energy, Geology, Mines and Waters Resources.

As a finalist in the Equator Prize the Crab Bay Resource Management Initiative now becomes an integral part of the Equator Initiative core constituency, joins the Equator Net list serve, has access to partner organizations and opportunities available through them, participates in organized meetings, conferences, and research and has access to scholarships, fellowships and other sources of funding, Raitamata said.

In closing her remarks Raitamata acknowledged the efforts of other partners, SPREP, JICA-JOCV and the American Peace Corp; donors AusAID and NZAIDS; and UNEP (United Nations Environment Program).

She said the pilot environment project will be a model that other communities and islands can adopt to suit their needs in managing their own fisheries resources.

The ceremony that was held at the Vanuatu Cultural Center was attended by government officials, donors and provincial and community representatives.

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