Sea Woman of Melanesia Program

By Terry Smith | Blog | 26 Aug 2019


The Coral Sea Foundation, in collaboration with the Conflict Island Conservation Initiative, is running a program to help not only the marine environment but empowering local Papua New Guinea women, to be custodians of their local reefs.

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THE CORAL SEA FOUNDATION aims to raise awareness of the ecological & social value, as well as being proactive in its sustainable management, of what the Coral Sea & the Eastern Coral Triangle has to offer. These areas contain the last great reservoir of ultra-diverse coral reef in the world. Due to the remoteness, it's very rarely visited & off the main radar of everyone’s awareness, but it’s for this reason that’s it’s in urgent need of our assistance. 

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA is a diverse area made up of many smaller islands spread over a wide distance. The income of the islands is low so must communities and Villages support themselves through using the natural resources available which is the marine environment. Fishing for the village is commonplace, but it’s the illegal side of fishing that is causing the problem. To make extra money some fishermen have resorted to shark finning and/ or turtle poaching. This is causing decimation of local species as it's not done in any sustainable way. The other part is the coral reef. It's so diverse that losing it would be catastrophic. The protection of the coral will ensure that there is abundant fish life for the villages to survive in the future.

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The Conflict Islands is one of these areas located about 12 hours by boat from the township of Alotau, Milne Bay. With a third of the world’s species of marine fish, the Conflict Islands are home to everything from the tiny ghost pipefish to the huge manta rays & tiger sharks. The 21 uninhabited tropical islands surround a spectacular lagoon and are currently under consideration for a World Heritage Marine Site. (Watch this space). To protect and conserve these pristine island waters, they have set up the Conflict Island Conservation Initiative (CICI). Their goal is the effective protection, & conservation of the ecosystems, as well as the species within the Conflict Island Atolls, through sustainable ecological & economic management. The CICI can achieve this through a concerted & passionate effort from affiliates & partners, like the local communities. Employing rangers from local communities is one of these steps.

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The combination of these two organisations has led to the program – The Sea Women of Melanesia

The goal of the Sea Women of Melanesia (SWoM) Program, is to train, to promote awareness within their communities, about Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA’s) & their benefit’s. As well as to continue to support the SWoM women on their journey to becoming diving professionals & marine advocates for PNG, especially the Milne Bay Province.

Through the course, the women will learn how to identify areas that need protection, learn about how to work within their communities & neighbouring communities, and to become advocates for marine conservation. These tools & skills learnt are a combination of science, ecotourism, and sustainability, which in turn will help them develop marine reserves that enhance fisheries & ecotourism resources while improving the basic quality of life of people in the villages.

The next course (at the time of writing) will be the 30 August 2019.

How can you help?

Support the SWoM Program Directly:

The Conflict Islands is offering 12-night twin share accommodation in a ocean view Bungalow with, return boat transfers from Alotau, food, up to three dives per day, all dive gear, and the participation in the program (the involvement is up to you. You can attend in as many days as you wish). A fantastic opportunity!

Support the SWoM Program Indirectly:

A Go Fund Me page has been set up for donations. Any donation goes directly to the Coral Sea Foundation and will be used on the program (the Coral Sea Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation).

Other steps

Join our Instagram & Facebook for regular updates or subscribe to the newsletter for future scheduled participation programs.

Let's work together & Save Our Seas!

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