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Vanuatu Community Joins Effort to Fight Crown-of-Thorns Invasion

Vanuatu Community Joins Effort to Fight Crown-of-Thorns Invasion

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The crown-of-thorns starfish threatens coral reefs in Vanuatu (Photo from the National Advisory Board on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, Government of Vanuatu)

The crown-of-thorns starfish threatens coral reefs in Vanuatu (Photo from the National Advisory Board on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, Government of Vanuatu)

The Government of Vanuatu is enlisting the help of Banban community in the fight against a crown-of-thorns (COT) invasion in some coastal areas in the country.

The government’s Fisheries Department has started a 6–day cleanup drive along the coasts of Luganville and Aore Island to rid the areas of COT, a report from the Vanuatu Daily Post said.

The COT is a species of starfish that feeds and ultimately destroys coral reefs if left uncontrolled.

With financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), members of the Fisheries Department and Banban residents waded into the waters off Luganville and Aore Island and removed some 4,000 COT starfish and buried the catch in the nearby beach.

A single COT can release millions of eggs which can then decimate a huge area of coral reefs, warned Dr. Pascal Dumas, a specialist from the Institute of Research and Development in France. One way of controlling the COT population is by quickly killing off excess numbers before they can release their eggs and breed, Dr. Dumas said.

The cleanup drive initiated by the Fisheries Department is a pilot effort and will be rolled out in other areas in Vanuatu if proven successful.

Vanuatu is a member of the Pacific Coral Triangle. ADB supports programs protecting and conserving this valuable, yet fragile ecosystem.

Story from the Vanuatu Daily Post

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