IN a bid to conserve the Great Sea Reef, the Macuata Qoliqoli Cokovata Committee has identified and endorsed another new marine protected area (MPA) in the province.
The new MPA makes a total of 15 in the province.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the MPAs are broken down in three classes, those that are permanently protected, seasonally opened every 10 years and seasonally opened every five years.
WWF South Pacific consultant Francis Areki said the achievement was a major one for WWF in engaging the four districts of Mali, Dreketi, Sasa and Macuata to agree on the direction for the preservation of biodiversity in their areas for now and the future.
The MPAs are jointly owned by the four districts and cover 1344 square kilometres.
"The 14 initial taboo areas were identified by the communities based simply on traditional knowledge of their qoliqoli (fishing ground)," Mr Areki said.
"Identification of the new MPAs is based on both scientific and traditional knowledge and consulting communities regarding their income and livelihoods.
"The survey identified three areas that needed protection in the qoliqoli cokovata — Cakau Utulei, Cakau Vatuka and Cakau Talailau that are biologically significant areas and which communities have now agreed to conserve."