23 January 2020
The third “Ocean Tribute Award was presented to the Sea Women of Melanesia project by the Coral Sea Foundation. The award is sponsored by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Boot Dusseldorf, the German Ocean Foundation, and SeaBob.
“The international recognition that comes with this award is tremendously important to the people and the nations of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, and to the Coral Sea Foundation and the women involved in the program,” commented Dr Andy Lewis.
“The development of the Sea Women of Melanesia program has been a fantastic team effort over the last 4 years involving scores of our supporters, multiple organisations and more than 100 people, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our major funding partners in Australia, the Unico Conservation Foundation and the Jock Clough Marine Foundation, and our program delivery partners at the Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative in PNG and Dive Munda in Solomon Islands with contributions from P&O Cruises, PADI Australia and SSI International.”
To date the program has trained 28 women across 18 communities and two countries.
All women are certified to at least Open-Water Diver standard, and the group now contains two Dive Instructors and two Dive Masters.
Community-led marine reserve creation projects instigated and supported by women from the Sea Women of Melanesia program have resulted in 20 new proposals for Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea and enhanced site management capability at 6 existing marine reserve sites in the Western Province of Solomon Islands.
Digital reef monitoring kits and survey equipment have been deployed with Sea Women trainees at multiple locations across the eastern Coral Triangle, and humanitarian aid (water &medical) has been distributed to over 15 communities as part of the program’s delivery mission.
“The €20,000 prize-money from the Ocean Tribute Award could not have come at a more opportune time, as we have just launched our PNG Marine Conservation Initiative 2020 and are looking to deliver an ambitious program of 5 expeditions across the eastern Coral Triangle during the course of the year,” continued Dr Lewis.
“Our Sea Women of Melanesia Director and PNG’s first female Dive Instructor, Naomi Longa, will be onboard and we are looking forward to extending the Sea Women training program and our marine conservation assistance to many new communities across this critically important marine biodiversity area.”