Galoa Bans Turtle Consumption



Posted on 21 October 2013  | 
Galoa islanders gather seaweed, an island staple sustaining nutrition and healthy feeding habits. Turtles used to constitute a significant portion of the island diet but that has changed with the institution of the ban by the Vanua
© WWF South PacificEnlarge
Notorious for illegal turtle harvests and unbridled feasting on turtle meat, Galoa Island in Bua has made a remarkable stand by banning the consumption of turtles.

Galoa islanders are the traditional fisher folk (gonedau) for the paramount chief of Bua, the Tui Bua.

Galoa village headman Simione Makosoi said it’s a decision that has the support of the Vanua Galoa and her 300 odd residents.

From an average killing of as many as five turtles in a week to now nil, the turtle consumption ban follows the examples set by Yadua Island, also in Bua province and Kavewa Island in Macuata, that are now the stalwarts of turtle conservation.

“This is an island crazy about feeding on turtle meat but it just didn’t feel right anymore to keep hunting down a creature whose numbers were going down just because we couldn’t control our greedy appetite,” Makosoi said.

“We wouldn’t want to be treated that way now would we?”

Galoa’s transformation is owed largely to the work of two men, the island fish warden and the village headman, fuelled by the testimonies of the of the Dau Ni Vonu and the stories of their remarkable change from one time avid turtle hunters to protectors that have inspired others.

“I attended a DnV meeting held on Yaqaga Island in June this year and what I heard changed my life so I asked WWF South Pacific to hold the next DnV meeting on my island because I wanted Galoa to also rally behind turtle protection,” he said.

“In our role as gonedau we need to show respect for marine life, take only what we need and leave the rest to grow in numbers to help restore the natural balance of the marine ecosystems which could potentially crash with the absence of these creatures that play a crucial role..

“Before when the Tui Bua indicated to his gonedau that he wanted to eat turtles, our elders went and only removed from the sea chosen turtles, probably just one or two for him but over the years in our greed we have taken too many and disrespected our role as gonedau.

“We cannot perform our traditional role if there are no turtles left in the sea.”

Three new turtle monitors from Galoa Island joined the honorable ranks of the Dau Ni Vonu network at a meeting held on the island last week.

The DnV, first established by WWF South Pacific’s Marine Species Programme in 2010, to support Fiji’s Sea Turtle Recovery Plan, consists of about 80 turtle monitors from turtle nesting sites in Bua, Macuata and Lomaiviti provinces, most of who were one time turtle hunters.

Marine Species Coordinator,Laitia Tamata said Galoa islanders have also committed to reviving old turtle nesting sites and advocating turtle protection with neighboring islands.

“They have identified sites that turtles used to use for nesting but were scared away from because of predatory activities.

They want the nesters to return to Galoa and are willing to put in the time and effort to make sure it happens,” Tamata said.
“With existing levels of enthusiasm for turtle conservation work, I’m positive that Galoa will soon be as important a nesting site as others.

“It’s clear that peer sharing, which is a core aspect of the DnV can have a profound influence on changing negative attitudes towards turtle conservation and help fulfill the aims of the Fiji Sea Turtle Recovery Plan.”


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Galoa islanders gather seaweed, an island staple sustaining nutrition and healthy feeding habits. Turtles used to constitute a significant portion of the island diet but that has changed with the institution of the ban by the Vanua
© WWF South Pacific Enlarge
A diver on Galoa island attends to his rack of beach-de-mer which is the main source of income for islanders. Turtles historically were more of a food source and not usually sold.
© WWF South Pacific Enlarge
The sea, home of the turtles, resides at the heart of living on Galoa island, intertwined in the culture, food security, income of islanders. Galoa islanders have agreed that without turtles, life won't be the same for islanders.
© WWF South Pacific Enlarge
Galoa island children are being reminded from early on that turtles must be protected.
© WWF South Pacific Enlarge

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