It was an emotional day for the chiefs and people of Galoa, Serua and the Golden Cowrie Women’s Collective last Thursday during the closing of the Plastics Repurposing Pilot Project. Initiated by the SPTO, the project aimed at promoting the My Fiji Shark initiative, an innovative project led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Beqa Adventure Divers in collaboration with SPTO to raise funds through an online platform to facilitate shark adoption. The sharks offered for adoption are regular visitors to Fiji’s Shark Reef Marine Reserve and the money raised goes to Beqa Adventure Divers for shark conservation and research in Fiji.
The work in Galoa village was a result of the inaugural Media Roundtable facilitated by SPTO in October 2018 which identified the need to promote shark adoption through communicating real and impactful people-stories.
And for the people of Galoa, the Plastics Repurposing Pilot Project brought forth multiple benefits. Conducted by renowned Fijian artisan and SPTO Creative Consultant, Mr. Warwick Marlow, the hands-on training provided new skills for the women in jewellery and craft making, a new source of income from used plastic bottles supplied by Vai Wai, Uprising Fiji Beach Resort and those they collect themselves. The initiative has also given the women and the wider community a platform to meaningfully engage in waste management and marine conservation. For SPTO, the initiative is a good way of engaging our village communities, the tourism industry and partners in finding innovative pathways to care for the environment and enhance community livelihoods.
To close off the project, equipment and supplies were presented to the women who have now formed a cooperative known as the ‘Golden Cowrie Women’s Collective’ to assist them sustain their craft making. UNDP’s Inclusive Growth Programme funded the initiative.
Building on the success of this project, SPTO conducted similar training for communities in Tuvalu with the hope to replicate it to other communities in Fiji and across the Pacific.