While those on the main land will be affected in terms of their employment at the processing center, those on the outer islands are now looking at tourism as a way forward.
A tourism seminar was held for the first time this week in Lorengau town that ended with the election of the First Manus Interim Manus Provincial Tourism Association Executives.
Tourism Development Initiatives Proposed Plans were brought up by those in attendance, amongst these was a proposal for the M’buke Islands-Ecotourism and Research & Conservation Plan.
Presented by the Councilor of M’buke Islands who is also a Marine Conservationist, Selarn Kaluwin says tourism is the proposed way forward for Manus.
Located on the south coast of Manus and part of the Pobuma LLG, Mbuke comprises of a group of 16 islands, over 60 coral reefs and is an estimated 85km out of Lorengau town. A 60 horse powered boat ride of two hours on fine weather will get you there.
Kaluwin’s presentation was based on what the community and leaders agreed to as a way to promoting sustainable development through the manageable harvesting of its natural resources.
He said the way forward is to promote conservation through ecotourism approaches: Cultural promotion, conservation and management through ‘no take zones’ and ‘controlled areas’, research and survey (whale and dolphin watching, wildfowl nesting sites and bird watching) and marine tourism products.
Currently the Mbuke group of islands has protected and reserved harvesting areas around its islands which also extends to the Purdy islands, a protected turtle nesting area.
In 2010 and 2012 a whale and dolphin survey was conducted on its Anun Island. The survey found eight whale species and two dolphin species came around to Anun island.
A coral reef health survey conducted in Manus islands by the World Wildlife foundation (WWF) in 2006 discovered Manus had 456 coral species.
“211 of those 456 coral species found in whole of Manus are in Mbuke. Anun Island alone has those 211 coral species with some new to science,” Kaluwin told Loop PNG.
“That’s why we are proposing for bungalows to be built on Anun island. There tourists have the option of diving, whale or dolphin watching and do research also,” he added.
He said one thing they will also look at is revive clay pot making on the islands and keep promoting the canoe building culture of the titan speaking people.
The island currently has two big community canoes that assist its people sail to and from Lorengau town.
However with the good proposed ecotourism plan, funding is a challenge the island community will face and the rest of other Manus islands also looking at tourism as the way forward for the province.
(Pictures courtesy of Selarn Kaluwin.)