Jul 11, 2020 Last Updated 9:26 PM, Jul 10, 2020

Not for sale

FIJI’S iconic flower, the Tagimoucia, is not for sale. Fijian authorities have made this statement to Islands Business magazine following reports that a world-leading botanical garden is looking at taking the Tagimoucia flower to Asia and adding it to the collection at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay.

The Tagimoucia has deep cultural and historical significance in Fiji. Sacred to the people of Fiji’s northern provinces of Bua and Cakaudrove, especially to the people of Taveuni, it is an endemic flowering vine that grows only on the highlands of Taveuni, particularly on the sloping forests that lead up to Lake Tagimoucia and the upper slopes of Mount Seatura, in Bua, Vanua Levu.

For these communities, the Tagimoucia symbolises beauty and uniqueness, and is the subject of songs and legends and a great deal of pride. The flower formed the bouquet presented to England’s Queen Elizabeth the three times she has toured Fiji, and its likeness was included in the embroidery on the Dutchess of Sussex’s wedding veil when she married Prince Harry last year.

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A murky mix of vested interests

  • Jul 11, 2020
  • Published in March

AN oil spill in Rennell, Solomon Islands is turning into a disaster of catastrophic proportions, threatening the world’s biggest raised coral atoll and prompting caretaker Prime Minister Rick Hou to call for a review of environmental and mining laws on the eve of the national elections.

The spill began when the ship, the MV Solomon Trader ran aground a reef whilst loading mined bauxite in the area on February 5. The vessel, which was carrying nearly 11,000 tonnes of bauxite at the time, is owned by Hong Kong company King Trader and was chartered by Indonesian-based Bintan Mining to ship bauxite from its mining operations to China. Bintan, which is mining under contract from Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID) the mining lease holder, has already distanced itself from any liability for the spill, and allegedly continued to load bauxite even as the oil spread.

In mid-March authorities were reporting 70 tonnes of oil had been spilt. Approximately 600 tonnes of oil remained inside the ship, although it is now being transferred to safe tanks on a tank barge which had been sent from Vanuatu. Now the ship’s insurer, Korea Protection and Indemnity Club, says the spilled load may be greater than original estimated.

The MV Solomon Trader spill is on the doorstep of the Rennell Islands UNESCO World Heritage site, a 37,000-ha land and marine area extending three nautical miles to sea. UNESCO calls the site a true natural laboratory for scientific study, but says it is vulnerable to threats including mining and logging. “The ability of the traditional owners to adequately protect and manage the natural values and resources of the property is limited by a lack of funding, capacity and resources,” UNESCO says.

The spill has not only affected the livelihood of more than 300 people living in communities and villages in the area  who cannot eat seafood, their main source of protein-but it has also threatened to destroy one of the country’s most important natural habitats.

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Fraud claims in Ambae

A MORE consistent and co-ordinated effort is required as an estimated 1000 people affected by continuous acid rain on Ambae Island have moved to Santo and Port Vila, a spokesperson for the Ambae disaster committee has revealed. Ambae was under threat from the Manaro volcano eruption last October, and while the threat has dropped back to level two, acid rain and ash that continued to affect the island has affected more than 5000 people, destroying their crops and fields.

Henry Vira, in an interview with Islands Business, said people were moving away at their own costs and trying their best to be resilient in the face of such hardships. He said while the government and civil society organisations continued to support communities with food, the assistance has been irregular. “Individual families in acid affected areas have moved to less affected areas along the coast of west Ambae and families need...

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Islanders return to acid rain

WATER and sanitation testing is on the priority agenda for Ambae Island as it recovers from mass evacuation amid fears of the imminent eruption of Manaro volcano last month. Around 11000 people were evacuated to neighboring islands last October for safety as volcano alert levels was raised to four – the highest in Vanuatu’s alert matrix. Late last month, the Vanuatu government lifted the state of emergency and Ambae Islanders were allowed to return. According to an account of the Ambae situation reported on November 15 by Vanuatu’s disaster officer, Manson Taridenga, the country’s water and sanitation cluster was now cleaning and testing water quality in wells and tanks, while at the ssame time carriny out water and sanitation awareness.

Acid rain is a new thing to live with for the people of Ambae, and its negative impact can already be seen in the growth of vegtables like cabbages thus forcing some to move further north to the coastal areas....

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Aliens invade the bay

ant invasive iguana (GII), also known as American iguana, in Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second biggest island. Last week villagers living near Viani Village, on the south coast of Natewa Bay, caught a male GII, a reptile that could grow to two metres long.

Nearby resident Jay Browning said while the male GII was killed, it was unfortunate that a female was also spotted but it escaped into the forest. Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) had declared American iguanas as pests and they are working closely with villagers to find others believed to be in the forest. According to BAF the pests were brought illegally into the country some 10-plus years ago and released on Qamea Island.

They have since spread to neighbouring Laucala, Taveuni and Matagi islands and now to their nearest main island, Vanua Levu. American iguanas breed rapidly and a female can lay 50 to 80 eggs. As herbivores they pose immediate threats to food security, eating plants such as dalo leaves and cassava tops, bele, tomatoes, cabbage, beans and yam vines. The last sighting on Vanua Levu was in 2014, when Tawake villagers on the west coast of Natewa Bay, found and killed one on their shores. The scenic Natewa Bay is the biggest bay in the South Pacific.

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Annotation 2020 06 29 143441
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