From Honiara, we traveled to Marau on the eastern tip of Guadalcanal, and were accompanied by John Houakau a village development worker with FSPI (Foundation of the People of South Pacific International) who is also from Marau. John and I met in Fiji in 2009, when we both attended a Marine Management Course at University of South Pacific.
Marau people are dependent on marine resources for economic security and thus realized that their marine resources were depleting and therefore needed to set aside locally managed marine areas (LMMA ). However, the people of Marau need to earn money. Seaweed farming was introduced to the people of Marau by FSPI in 2009. Seaweed was identified as an alternate income generating source to support livelihood. With help of FSPI, the seaweed (Kappaphceus alvarnzii) was imported from Philippines 3 years ago. The seaweed is fetching SD3.00/kg in Honiara by some Asians namely Lee Kok Kuen. Seaweed is used in pharmaceuticals, as a preservative and food additive.
The Benefits of Farming Seaweed
When asked about the benefits, economically, it support family’s livelihood and eases the family’s burden on school fees and basic household needs. Environmentally, when fishing pressure is taken out, tambu reefs are recovering as more fish come in abundance and coral health cover is improving compared to before. Socially, seaweed farming is a family oriented business where all fully participate, and it eases social problems such as unemployment.
Although seaweed farming brings many benefits, transport costs are an issue with the community which is very much killing their effort.
A healthy young seaweed branch is cut out from the mature weed and tied onto a 30m string rope. Space between each seedling is about 20 to 25 cm. The string of young seaweed is tied onto a young round mangrove pole stretching horizontally in the water where there is a slight current. The seaweed is submerged in the water and should reach maturity after 6 weeks. The seaweed is harvested and dried in the sun. An average drying time is 4 days if there is plenty of sunshine.
Crew members Pokakes Pondraken of Pere and Bernard Checheng of Mbuke suggested that this is a good alternative livelihood project to bring economic security, and would like to introduce in Manus.
We arrived back in Honiara on Tuesday and will be heading to Naro today then to Savo Island before departing for Western Province (New Georgia) by the end of the week.
Capt. Manuai Matawai