Monday, 21 July 2008

A guardian of the sea - Fiji Times Online

Okostino Apao ... protecting the sea

Okostino Apao ... protecting the sea

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The love for his fishing ground and a request from his dying mother prompted 23-year-old Okostino Apao to put his studies on hold and look after the village marine protected area.

Apao is originally from Rotuma but grew up in his mother's village of Waitabu on Taveuni.

As Apao grew up, he never really understood the importance of the work his late mother Sala did, which is to manage the village marine protected area, now known as the Waitabu Marine Park as it is frequently visited by tourists.

Sala was the force behind the setting up of the park with the help of Marine Ecology Fiji Consultant, Helen Sykes.

After completing Form Seven on Taveuni, Apao enrolled at the Fiji Institute of Technology, but had to return to help his sick mother with her work. Sadly, she died in 2006.

Since then, Apao said, he has continued to do the work his mother did and has never regretted leaving FIT because he loved every moment at sea.

"She used to tell us the benefits of the work that she was doing but we never really bothered. We were also angry with her for leaving us many times and going overseas because of her work," he said as tears welled up in his eyes.

"But she was passionate about what she was doing and even though she had high blood pressure and was sickly she still carried on with her work. I tried to find out why she was so enthusiastic about the project so I involved myself in monitoring the area with other youth and people in the village.

"Through my participation I realised what she was doing was really important but sadly for me, she died after only seven months of working with her.

A guardian of the sea - Fiji Times Online

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