Name: Selarn Kaluwin
Country: Papua New Guinea
Location: Mbuke Island, Manus

Tapas Selarn Kaluwin, from Mbuke Island on the southwest coast of Manus, stands out as a community champion for his work over the last few years. Selarn is the representative for the Mbuke Island LMMA site, which was initially an associate or level one member, not actively collecting Learning Framework data but well informed about the LMMA Network and participating in National meetings. PNG LMMA had hoped that Mbuke would become an active LMMA site, but things did not happen as anticipated and thus a decision was made not to invite Mbuke to the 2006 and 2007 National meetings.

During the past few years, Mbuke Island has witnessed a transformation from being an associate member to being more active. This came about when Selarn realized the exclusion of Mbuke at the PNG LMMA national meetings. To him the exclusion meant that not much was happening at the community level. The delays were due to the LMMA concept not being well understood by the Mbuke council of chiefs, who hold decision making powers within Mbuke community.

This prompted Selarn to carry out awareness campaigns to explain the concept of LMMAs. In October 2006, Selarn was fortunate to bring a team to the community biological and socio-economic training held in Pere, where three members undertook the biological monitoring training and three members the socioeconomic training. Afterwards, the team returned to Mbuke and briefed the chiefs and community, and appealed for the establishment of a tambu (protected) area.

Selarn managed to convince the chiefs to agree to close parts of the reef surrounding the immediate waters of Mbuke Island, leading to the establishment of two tambu areas (Mbuke and Wal), which are important breeding grounds for trochus, sea cucumbers, fish and clams. These tambu areas were accepted by the chiefs and the community in October 2006 and formally established in early 2007. In February 2007, Selarn’s monitoring team, along with volunteers from the community, put up signs in the tambu areas. A refresher training was conducted under the guidance of Selarn for the monitoring team as well as other interested community members.

Immediately after the refresher, the monitoring team conducted its first-ever biological survey of the seagrass habitat in the Mbuke tambu area. Later, they conducted more surveys in both Mbuke and Wal tambu areas, covering both seagrass and coral habitats. The Marine Environment Awareness and Response Team (MEART), a community-based oranisation that Selarn coordinates, met the cost of fuel, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) donated tape measures and other field equipment, and the LMMA Network supplied underwater paper and clipboards for the first survey. The second survey was supported by WWF and the Mbuke community and chiefs. The monitoring team presented data results from the counts of three fish species (sweetlips, spinefoot and rabbitfish) to the community, who were glad to hear the information.

Selarn also did a survey on the use and sale of lime (powdered coral used for betelnut chewing) with the women of Mbuke. This survey was to establish baseline data on income generated from lime production and the use of the income. The results from this survey were also presented to the community during the presentation of the biological survey data results.

Selarn conducted further awareness activities on the harvest of corals for lime in Mbuke. This led to the chiefs deciding to organize rotational harvesting of corals in four locations (North, South, East and West) to allow each area to replenish. The proposed timeframe for such rotation was six months, and will be decided pending further discussion among the chiefs. Additionally, with assistance from WWF, the tambu areas were mapped using GPS; the resulting digital maps are useful for management planning and awareness purposes, as they are easy for community members to see the size of the LMMA and the different habitats within. Selarn and his team also began focusing on coral replanting efforts during 2006 and 2007, assisted by community volunteers.

It is hoped that the path taken by Selarn and his team will be taken by other communities. The costs of most activities undertaken by Selarn and his team were met by him, his family members, and the chiefs and community of Mbuke with assistance from WWF and LMMA. Well done Selarn and Mbuke community! Thank you for allowing us to share this wonderful story with other members of the Network and beyond. This should be and inspiration to other communities. Selarn would like to thank the many people and organizations for their support: The Mbuke council of chiefs, the Mbuke community (MEART, MIPA), primary schools, Mbuke and Wal Women’s Group, WWF, LMMA Network, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Pam Seeto, Pobuma LLG, Manus Provincial Govt. Fisheries and Marine Resources Division, Planning and Implementation, Education Division, Commerce and Tourism, Ward Councils of Pobuma LLG, Chiefs from nearby communities, CELCOR, the Community Conservation Network, and Coastal Based Fisheries Management, Lae, MP.

Photo by Susan Ewen