THE World Wildlife Foundation says Madang Lagoon is overfished and depleting and it is looking at other ways to conserve fish and other marine life while enabling local communities to sustain themselves.
According to Rebecca Samuel (right), WWF’s marine project officer in Madang, people cannot be stopped from extracting resources unless they are able to develop alternative sources.
“We cannot stop people from using their resources,” Ms Samuel, a marine biologist, said. “Even though we talk about conservation, we cannot ignore the fact that people still need to eat and have money. People will still get from the environment to sell and to eat.”
Ms Samuel said this is the reason behind WWF’s introduction of the financial inclusion part of its Alternative Livelihood Project: to reduce pressure on marine resources while people are encouraged towards other means of sustaining themselves.
Ms Samuel said the financial inclusion aspect of the project is training Madang Lagoon communities to look at ways to generate income and save money.
She said there have been many success stories under the program.
According to Madang Lagoon resident Stephanie Kaut, the training is good and has helped to increase her awareness of business skills and home economics.
“The training was very helpful and taught us a lot in terms of how to start a business and how much we can use for our family needs without ruining our business,” Ms Kaut said.
She said she started selling small ice block sticks for 20 toea, ice block cups for 50 toea, Tang juice for one kina and ice cube bags for three kina.
She later went into poultry raising and currently has 52 chickens which will soon be ready for market.
Resident Fidelis Babak agreed with Stephanie Kaut and said he was thankful he attended the WWF training which is the kind of training villagers need so they are empowered to better themselves.
The training had opened his eyes to the problems that resulted in the previous break down of his evarlier business.
Since restarting his business last year, he has gone from strength to strength, including buying himself a motorcycle which is essential to his small business. He uses the bike to travel to and from town for business and also to transport store goods.
Rebecca Samuel said there will be a follow-up training for people who want to attend, and already a couple of the successful participants of the first training are saving up for advanced training.