Saying that Nuatali Veniiy is passionate about marine conservation is a vast understatement. She’s a true believer in the importance of the reefs and the life they support. Like her mother before her, Veniiy is responsible for the reef near her family’s land on Ghizo Island in Solomon Islands. She takes this responsibility very seriously, and is always looking for ways to improve the reef’s protection.
Thanks to resources from the Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP)—a USAID-funded project led by WWF—Veniiy has the tools to inform and guide her community to sustainably manage their fisheries and marine resources. She helped form and now leads a community-based association, which is working to gain legal recognition for their marine protected area.
WWF supports local communities in the Coral Triangle so that they can conserve and sustainably manage their own natural resources. Our overall goal is for this marine area to be vibrant and healthy, providing food and livelihoods for generations to come.
Traditionally, temporary fishing closures declared by chiefs and elders were respected, and the reefs were managed for optimal fish production. But in 1999, Veniiy began noticing that the sustainable management practiced by her mother and ancestors—based on a deep knowledge of and love for the reefs—wasn’t as effective anymore.
She and her sons did their best to guard against sea cucumber poachers, but they needed a more permanent solution.
Veniiy participated in a series of coastal management workshops and a field trip to a nearby marine protected area, sponsored by CTSP. She became convinced that protected area status for Ghizo’s reefs was the answer she had been seeking as a long-term solution. For Veniiy, reefs are a sea paradise. Her eyes light up and emotion tinges her voice when she talks about her reefs, and her determination and energy shine through as she shares this love with everyone around her.
“The reef is always in my heart. Everywhere I go I try to educate people, including my family, about protecting the reef,” she says. “We all live together, and we must work together to preserve our resources for the future.”
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