Marine Reserves and Tabu Sites
The coral reefs of Vanuatu, like any other reefs, are fragile and faced with a number of threats. These can be localised from simply walking or touching corals to global issues associated with climatic changes and invasive species (e.g. Crown of Thorns Starfish).
The importance of ecological sustainability and the preservations of coral reefs for the future generations are, however, very much ingrained in the culture and customs of Vanuatu. A number of Marine Protected Areas, Conservation Areas and customary designated Taboo Sites have been put in place throughout the Shepherd Islands. These have been established to preserve marine ecosystems of cultural significance as well as to allow areas, which have undergone significant damage, to recover.
In Northern Efate, the establishment of the Nguna-Pele Marine Protected Area Network encompasses an area of 3,000 hectares. This local, indigenous, non-government organisation made up of sixteen communities on two islands is dedicated to the sustainable use and long-term existence of marine resources. Stay in the locally owned bungalows (e.g Nguna or Pele), snorkel to find over 100 giant clams in the ‘clam garden’, take a guided tour in the local outrigger canoes, get involved in the tagging of turtles to assist the monitoring program or grow some coral for conservation. The Nguna-Pele marine protected area has a lot to offer and is just waiting to be explored.
Coral Gardens are created by collecting small pieces of broken coral and attaching them to a solid surface such as these purpose-built coral beds.
Coral Gardening in Worasiviu, Pele Island
The community of Worasiviu on Pele Island has recently established a coral garden in order to assist the restoration and rehabilitation of their local coral reef. Many reefs throughout the world are in decline, which has largely been associated to poor water quality, cyclones, crown of thorns starfish outbreaks as well as climate change. Adapting techniques used for the commercial production of corals, local members from the village of Worasiviu are incorporating these methods to garden or plant corals in areas that have been destroyed. Coral gardening, also known as mariculture is a relatively simple process involving the collection of small existing broken coral and re-attaching them to a solid surface. Though, the process is simple, the growth rate of coral is extremely slow and they are very fragile and therefore it will take many years for a coral garden to become well established.
You can be involved in this locally organised project either by creating your own “coral spider” or taking a small boat ride to view the garden. All proceeds go to Nguna Pele Marine Protected Area Network to support other locally-based projects and initiatives.
Make a Coral Spider: VT5000 ( >5 people, extra 1000VU p/p)
Snorkel the coral garden: VT500
What to bring
Your own snorkel gear and flippers.
Willie Kenneth (+678) 568 4229
Nabanga Bungalow and Bella Bungalow are situated in Worisiviu Village where the coral gardening takes place. Sunrise Bungalows are in the nearby Launamoa Village. But wherever you're staying on Pele Island, your hosts will be able to give you directions.