SPP & WDCS International heading to Papua New Guinea to establish new project
SPP’s Managing Director had a meeting with Vagi Rei yesterday to discuss the possibility of establishing a new whale and dolphin conservation project in Papua New Guinea (PNG) later this year. Vagi is Ecosystems Manager for the PNG Government Department of Environment and Conservation, a position he has held for nearly eighteen years. His role involves working with local communities to establish Marine Protected Areas and his main areas of focus are species conservation of whales and dolphins, marine turtles and dugongs. SPP was introduced to Vagi by Dr. Cara Miller, our project partner in Fiji on the recent Spinner dolphin research and conservation project. Dr. Miller has already successfully run a pilot community-based cetacean research project in Papua New Guinea in collaboration with Vagi and the Government and has now asked SPP for assistance in putting together a groundbreaking new style of project later this year.
Papua New Guinea is widely considered by marine scientists to be the biodiversity hotspot in the Pacific region. As well as many species of cetacean, the remote coral reefs and incredibly diverse marine life of Papua New Guinea draw researchers and recreational divers from all over the world. Dr. Miller and SPP will visit the island of Manus in May this year with Vagi to plan logistics for the new initiative. The best time of year for observing cetaceans around Manus Island is between October and January, which also happens to be the time of year for good weather and calm seas, crucial when conducting boat-based research. SPP will keep you updated with progress on new developments and is already very excited that most of the recent participants in our pilot Spinner dolphin project in Fiji have already agreed to sign up for the new Papua New Guinea project, showing that Sarah, Charlotte, Isabelle, Mary and Kavi all have a commitment to adventuring off the beaten track in the name of whale and dolphin conservation!
Howard Foster – Yasawa Islands, Fiji