28 – 30 July 2010
S2 22.915 E146 49.513 – M’Buke Island
S2 18.697 E146 51.595 – Anun Island
S2 20.051 E146 51.725 – Champoin Island
Last year in February, when I was still researching WWF Coral Triangle projects to cover for our expedition, I had heard of the traditional community canoe making project of WWF Western Melanesia Programme in M’Buke Island, Manus. This was not a small dugout canoe that I was familiar with but a big outrigger canoe that could easily sleep 20 people if they were tight.
Selarn’s first suggestion when it came to accommodations in M’Buke was “do you want to sleep in the canoe tonight?” I eagerly said YES, but was vetoed immediately by Yogi who said although sleeping in the canoe sounded romantic, it was not a good idea. He wanted to photograph the people in the village and being on the boat will not give him access to the people on land. So sadly, I had to agree.
We missed the celebratory launching of the WWF funded community canoe by two days. The canoe was launched as part of M’Buke’s first Yam Festival where government officials, WWF Western Melanesia Programme’s new Managing Representative Dr. Neil Stronach and the local press attended.
We photographed the traditional community use of the canoe. A big group of men, women and children went off to go basket fishing and with a 25 horsepower outboard motor, the big canoe went to Champoin Island to catch some fish.
Three men fished with a basket. They would look for schooling fish of sardines and this would then be used as bait for their hook and line for the bigger fish. We watched the men hunt in earnest.
Through several years of collaboration, WWF and the M’Buke local communities have small steady successes to call their own. They have established Mbuke Islands Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA); drafted the management plan for the entire Mbuke Islands LMMA; drafted and implement coral harvesting rules and regulations; created three no-take zone sites; developed and support the implementation of community based biological monitoring, socioeconomic surveys, mangroves reforestation plan and nursery, coral replanting trail experiment, wildfowl harvesting control and community mapping.