Not enough efforts to protect environment

Fakarava and its neighbouring atolls are a UNESCO biosphere reserve: a program for ‘conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use’. Unfortunately there’s not much wildlife left ashore that could be protected–copra industry and a rather large population have shied away most birdlife. Fakarava’s famous for its many grey reef sharks in the south pass and several dive operators and of course the ‘pensions’ ashore depend on tourists to come and admire the underwater world.
We snorkeled the North-pass today, sadly the coral is not in a good shape and we didn’t see lots of fish. We moved on to snorkel a bommie inside the lagoon (also a popular place for excursion boats) and were more than surprised to see a group of tourists in the water with a speared parrot fish. Not exactly clever of the tour operators to have the fish speared that are supposed to pose for the cameras of future visitors…

We find the lack of awareness and environment protection here in French Polynesia really sad. Yes, there are programs in Tahiti and Moorea to protect birds and turtles, educational programs at school and some awareness. But out in the Tuamotus people still hunt turtles, eat sea bird’s eggs and spear endangered species. Even here in a biosphere copra production and spearfishing is allowed and the few moorings that were installed for sailboats a few years ago to protect the coral were not maintained and have mostly been torn out and swept away.

The uninhabited atoll of Tahanea (just 100 nm from here) still has plenty of bird colonies, wonderful coral, spectacular passes as well and would certainly deserve to be a biosphere reserve. Unfortunately it is not protected and the people from the neighbouring village call it their ‘food reserve’. All our efforts to raise awareness for the nature gem Tahanea have hit walls: apparently it’s a ‘political issue’ and delicate topic.
It’s a shame that the little left-over patches of wilderness here don’t get the protection they deserve. Soon there won’t be anything left to protect.

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