PROTECTION of the world's third largest barrier reef — Great Sea Reef — has become a responsibility of a northern youth group.
The youths of Yaro Village on Kia Island in Macuata have pledged to have a clean-up program in the four villages where all rubbish will be disposed of.
Maleli Qera, one of the officials, said the program would greatly assist the initiative carried out by the Community Centred Conservation (C3) group.
"A clean-up campaign for the village of Yaro is a new initiative and part of our contribution to ensuring the reef is protected from pollution and unnecessary activities such as overfishing," he said.
"Scientists have proved that the reef has slowly been deprived of its natural glory as a result of commercial fishing.
"C3, a marine conservation NGO I work for has also been helping the local community through awareness about the reef."
Mr Qera said overfishing and exploitation around the reef area had increased.
Involving the villagers in the clean-up, he added, would greatly assist their initiative of protecting the reef.
"The program will involve cleaning up of the entire village, streams and the waterfront of the village," Mr Qera said.
"This is something expected of youths in rural communities today and that is to have a great concern about their environment.
"After working on this island for four years, I have seen positive changes in the mind-set of these people especially the younger generation."