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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 26, 1999 – PACNEWS)---The Fiji Islands, French Polynesia and the Solomon Islands will benefit this year from a New Zealand conservation and environmental protection initiative.

Under New Zealand’s Pacific Development and Conservation Trust, the three Pacific Islands will receive funds to carry out several different projects.

The Trust Fund was set up with money the New Zealand Government received from France after France was held responsible for the destruction of the Greenpeace vessel, Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland Harbor.

Twice each year, it distributes interest income from this money throughout New Zealand and the South Pacific, focusing on applicants who enhance and conserve their environment and promote development of the South Pacific.

Fiji will receive $11,000 for the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific to undertake a project in Dromuna village in Tailevu and the southernmost islands of Vanuabalavu and Kadavu. The Foundation aims to develop a sustainable locally-owned aquaculture project alternative to the seriously damaging and low profit trade in ornamental corals. It is estimated these corals are being removed from the reefs at about 1,500 metric tons per year.

The project will be led by Dr. Austin Bowden-Kerby, former Associate Professor of Marine Science at the College of Micronesia, who has been involved in three successful reef restoration and reef planting projects in the Solomon Islands.

The Pacific Development and Conservation Trust has also approved a US$ 2,700 grant to Hoot Tiara Mao, a French Polynesian cooperative, to further develop the successful commercialization of noni and vanilla.

In the Solomon Islands, the Trust has allocated US$ 1,230 to build 10 solar box ovens in Sambora village.

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