WORLD HERITAGE LAKE TEGANO UNAFFECTED BY OIL SPILL
THE country’s only World Heritage Site (WHS) Lake Tengano in East Rennell remains undisturbed in the wake of the oil spill at Lughu Bay last month.
A three-week assessment by the Solomon Islands Environment and Conservation Division (ECD) has not seen any traces of oil components on the sea and coastline along the World Heritage Site boundary.
The ECD team who accompanied the Resolve Shoreline Clean-up Technique Assessment (SCAT) team said drone image analysis and sea water samples collected from within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) protected site show no signs of oil spill reaching the eastern parts of the island.
The team went far as Tuhugago Beach to conduct their survey last week.
Rennell locally called Mungava (86 km long x 15 km wide), is the only largest up-raised coral atoll in the world. The site includes approximately 37,000 hectares and a marine area extending 3 nautical miles to sea. Tegano is the largest insular Lake in the Pacific region with brackish waters and rich biodiversity of endemic species.
It is under customary land ownership and management.
The WHS buffer zone starts from the Nuava point inside the Lughu Bay oil-stricken areas which is 15 km away.
The worst fear of custodians of the Lake is the destructive mining and logging operations in the Western end of the island.
It was listed in 2013 as a World Heritage in Danger after threat posed by commercial logging, invasive pests and over-exploitation of natural resources.
UNESCO is working with the national authorities to ascertain the status of the situation and the best mitigation measures to be taken.
A joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission was already expected to visit the property in the next months, as requested by the World Heritage Committee in July 2018.
In the meantime, the ECD team is assessing and monitoring the extent of damage to marine ecosystems of Lughu Bay.
Caretaker Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela noted that this country is a signatory to many international conventions to protect, conserve and uphold the integrity of our environment.
“We cannot pretend, to be champions in this regard and then do not protect our environment,” he said.
This incident has already destroyed the ecological and environmental habit in Lughu Bay and much of this destruction which worth more than the total value of what is received from this bauxite export is now sadly irreversibly damaged.
The bulk carrier “Solomon Trader” oil spill does not reach or affect World Heritage Site Lake Tegano and boundary. However authorities are still monitoring the oil journey whilst containment is progressing well.
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