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Monday, June 05, 2006

To'abaita USP Journalism student attend SeaWeb Environmental Seminar

An environmental course organised by the United States­ based group SeaWeb has been an eye-opener for two University of the South Pacific journalism students.

Ruth Ramoifuila from North Malaita in the Solomon Islands and Paulus Mane of Papua New Guinea attended the SeaWeb lectures in Suva along with members of the mainstream media.

Journalism students Mr Paulus Mane and Ms Ruth Ramoifuila

In a presentation to her fellow students on the course, Ms Ramoifuila said the lectures gave her a deeper understanding about the perilous situation of sea turtles.

“It takes a female turtle 50 years before she is able to mate and produce eggs. And when the nesting season is over, the female turtle may not mate again for another three to six years,’’ she said.

According to Ms Ramoifuila said it was not enough to tell people to stop eating endangered turtles but to have more active grassroots campaigns explaining, among other things, turtle lifecycles. The need to conserve will then be better understood.

Ms Ramoifuila, who comes from a coastal village in To'abaita (Taba'a Village), said catching and eating turtles was embedded in their culture. She said turtles were being harvested more frequently for local consumption, traditional and commercial purposes.

The fact that turtles are part of the Pacific Islands cultural heritage is being used in conservation efforts with people being told that they would lose this icon forever if they continued to wantonly target endangered species, Ms Ramoifuila said.

USP Journalism Programme Coordinator, Mr Shailendra Singh, said the two students attended the lectures as part of their journalism course.

They are required to write stories for the journalism training newspaper, the website, and hold seminars for the other journalism students and will be assessed on this.

“This part of the Journalism Programme’s effort to inculcate environmental values in students and also broaden their knowledge on the issues,’’ said Mr Singh.

“In this, we are always looking for partnerships with environmental groups such as SeaWeb.’’

The programme’s training newspaper Wansolwara regularly reports on environmental issues.

SeaWeb is a communications-based nonprofit organisation that uses social marketing techniques to advance ocean conservation by creating awareness of endangered marine species in the Pacific Ocean.

The lectures in Suva were part of the Sea Series for journalists in Fiji and Papua New Guinea. The seminars provide members of the media with the foundation of basic science knowledge they need to report on complex ocean stories.

Lecture topics range from fish biology to ecosystem linkages to the climate. Participants hear local ocean experts and explore their research during fieldtrips specially designed to enhance understanding. The course will be held twice a month for six months.

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