Cynthia from Erakor Bridge had a meeting with a scientific, education and awareness organization called Manta Trust – CONSERVATION through Research, Education & Collaboration.
This happens after various attempts from communities to request to the government authorities for support without any success. At this stage, Communities and Chiefs lost their hope to get any support from authorities, so they decided to are seek international support.
In fact, the authorities are not only cooperating to Save the Erakor Lagoons, but working against the Erakor Lagoon Restoration Plan by, for example, allowing the export of sea cucumber in 2020. Sea cucumbers are fundamental for the Restoration of the lagoon that is extremely contaminated. It is surprising that authorities see the Lagoon in a exploitative perspective from the fragile natural resources by allowing to sell sea cucumbers to China, completely ignoring the fact the sea cucumber properties and function as a natural solution to Save the Erakor Lagoons.
At the time of the “harvesting” of the sea cucumbers, the Chiefs had already determined a Tabu, prohibition to fish, to allow the recovery of the fish population between 2019 and 2024. Chief of Solwota have been requesting in the last years the authorities for assistance to Save the Lagoons, including a study about its marine life situation and assistance to remove crown of thrones from the remaining corals on the Lagoon. He participated in a International Conference about transnational crimes to talk about the status of the Erakor Lagoons.
In 2023 there was an opportunity to apply to a scholarship to a organization specialized in conservation, research and education about Mantas and Sting rays. Cynthia applied and on the 27th of January Cynthia got the chance to talk and request support from this organization based in the United Kingdom. In a program called Ocean’s Ambassador.
It is not the first time that Cynthia, with 13 years old actively contributes to the Erakor community and Erakor Lagoon protection. She as being actively vocal regarding the the protection of the Lagoon. In early 2020, after a ecological disaster during La Niña, many adults were worried with paying school fees. The Lagoon was already under a Chiefs Tabu to prevent overfishing, so chances to access to some livelihoods provided by the Lagoon was limited. Many environmental active youth from Erakor Bridge departure to New Zealand and Australia. It seemed that the Lagoon was condemned to be forgotten but Cynthia and her little friends step up, to cover the lack of the active youth, and came with an idea: The Voice of the Erakor Lagoon… This children’s movement united the community once again to act to protect the lagoon.
The children and the Chief Marik Koftau Natonton put together a play to alert the People about the State of the Lagoon and made People and particularly the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources sign a pledge to Save the Erakor Lagoons.
The Erakor Bridge Youth Association formed in December 2023 took a picture of a Sting Ray, from the Manta family of fish that was deformed. This fact shocked the youth and children and they want to know why this is happening.
The Zoom interview with members of the Manta Trust foundation was the appropriate time for Cynthia to introduce herself, the community and their concerns, while being interviewed for the selection process for the Ocean Ambassador as the applicant from Vanuatu as part of 200 applicants for 10 scholarships.
Chief of Solwota Marik Patrick Waoute supported by Erakor Bridge Chief Marik Ekoftau II and Erakor Bridge Revolution Youth Association board were delighted about Cynthia initiative to request support from marine biologists overseas considering has the have not received any scientific support from Vanuatu .
Unfortunately Cynthia was not selected as she was one from 200 applicants english speakers for 10 scholarships, but she subscribed a newsletter of the manta trust. She also shared her concerns about the Erakor Lagoons Sting Ray and she will be in directed contact with the Marine scientists including Biologists and other experts to seek for some explanations that she will share with the Erakor Bridge Youth colleagues and the Chief of Solwota.
On the absence of the authorities support, this is not the first time that marine biologists assisted the community to understand the Value of the Erakor Lagoons Ecossystem.
Cynthia is, de facto the Ambassador of the Erakor Lagoons with various talks with the International Community
Cynthia was invited for her story to be be part of the Children’s book End of the Plastic Era, representing the young activists South Pacific and sent, with her friends, a message to Amsterdam to the book launch