Dead fish of all sizes are being deposited on waterfront properties around the Second (Emten) Lagoon. Blame is being laid at the door of El Nino. Emten is not very deep, and the narrow passage between Erakor and Emten lagoons provides insufficient drainage for tidal movement to completely sluice out Emten twice daily. The hot, sunny days have made the lagoon water too warm for the fish to survive healthfully. Emten becomes something of a salt water pressure cooker in El Nino seasons. Older residents from around the lagoon recall this happening on various occasions before.
Man made so-called developments have not always helped. Whilst the original Erakor Bridge provided a much-needed access to the township for the villagers, the vehicle and pedestrian access to the bridge on each side was provided with quarried material which greatly restricted the flow of water under the bridge. Nobody considered it desirable to lengthen the bridge, enabling a better water through-flow, when the new bridge was constructed. This would have made the project more costly.
Emten has had notable fish breeding grounds where the mangroves have been left intact. The artificial small island saw the loss of significant stands of mangrove. This action was deplored by lagoon-side residents. Governments, however, still enabled the project to proceed.
The latest threat to the fish breeding areas has come from a project before the Environment Unit. The purchaser of the lease to the forest opposite Pacific Suppliers, where natural woodland has all been destroyed without consultation with nearby residents, had a big plan in mind. He intended a bridge from the forest block to the small island. This would have necessitated the removal of natongtong in the lagoon water adjacent to his lease. It is understood this project has been refused by the Environment Department. Consultations with the Emten residents have never been announced and would be likely to receive a flat refusal.
Emten is customarily owned by the people of Erakor and Eratap. It has provided protein for people with easy access to the lagoon waters.
There has been much less human pollution than in Erakor Lagoon which regularly sees high tides of disposable nappies arrive inshore. It appears that this time the threat in Emten is from the natural weather disturbance of El Nino.
There is little we can do about that. However, it is appreciated that the Environment Department is keeping watch on the important stretch of water and doing its utmost to preserve the ecologically fragile area.
By Bob Makin