Our goal is the effective protection and conservation of all marine ecosystems and species within the Conflict Island Atoll through sustainable ecological and economic management. This can be achieved through a concerted and passionate effort from all our affiliates and partners.
WHAT AND HOW WE ARE CONSERVING
The Conflict Group of Islands is recognised as one of the world’s marine biodiversity hotspots and is currently targeted under the Community Based Coastal and Marine Conservation Programme as a Marine Protected Area (MPAs).
Conservation International conducted a Rapid Biodiversity Assessment in 1997 which documented the biodiversity of the Conflict Island Atoll. It revealed extensive areas of coral coverage and significant species diversity being an average of 220 species of fish per site, higher than the Great Barrier Reef and it also identified other species completely new to science.
The conservation responsibility now lies with the owner, the visitors and the local community to uphold all practices that safeguard this pristine and unique area of the world.
CONFLICT ISLANDS CONSERVATION INITIATIVE
Established in 2017, Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative (CICI) had been a long time coming. After Ian Gowrie-Smith purchased the Conflict Island Group, a sight unseen in 2003, when visiting for the first time he knew the Conflict Islands was a pristine and critically important ecologically site. With the effects of population increase, global sea level changes, and the unregulated and illegal harvest of turtles and sharks, IGS came to the resolution, ”Doing nothing is simply no longer an option!” With the arrival of his new manager couple, Hayley Versace, an Australian marine biologist and Ed Cardwell, a British environmental conservationist and photographer/cinematographer, he put into more urgent action the plan to develop full-time conservation programs and initiatives. With that, CICI was created offering educational internships and volunteer programs for students, passionate citizen scientists and anyone who has chosen a career in or has a passion towards conservation with the opportunity to attain qualifications and field experience. Through our university and international scuba diving association, PADI, our interns achieve world recogonised qualifications and skills.
CICI provides the financial ability to allow local businesses to employ staff who’s families and villages benefit directly from their employment. This employment goes a long way towards a good relationship between the islanders who then work with us for our common conservation goals.
Our goal is effective protection and conservation of the ecosystems and species within the Conflict Island Atoll, and beyond through sustainable ecological and economic management. This can be achieved through a concerted and passionate effort from all our affiliates and partners.”
With a third of the world’s species of marine fish, the Conflict Islands are home to everything from the tiny ghost pipe fish to the huge manta ray with even occasional visit from the largest fish in the seas, the whale shark. The 21 uninhabited tropical islands surround a spectacular lagoon
The islets within the Conflict Group are favourable nesting and breeding sites for Green and Hawksbill Turtles. The natural lagoons and sandy beaches make it ideal for the turtles to nest, rest and feed. Green turtles are the most common species found around the Conflict Islands and although they are listed as an endangered species they are still killed for their meat and eggs and conservation efforts are underway.
The Conflict Island Atoll boasts spectacular soft coral gardens which are full of colour and sculpture and can be fully appreciated by snorkelers and divers who visit them. The Alcyonacea, or soft corals do not produce calcium carbonate skeletons like other corals, but instead contain minute, spiny skeletal elements called sclerites – which give the coral support and a spiky, grainy texture that deters predators. A must see!
It is undisputed that there are many fish species currently unidentified who inhabit the waters in and around Milne Bay Province. The area is located in the Coral Triangle, which supports the most diverse marine ecosystems on Earth. In just 10 years, 33 new fish species have been discovered in this area including the damselfish Chrysiptera cymatilis
to buy them
This was a watershed moment for the atoll where Ian Gowrie-Smith visited and saw the reckless treatment of the islands prompting him to buy them. The protection of turtles has now led to many other marinew species’ to be conserved such as sharks and other reef fish.
Conflict Islands can now collaborate with scientists around the world to provide a marine research station via either dive live aboard vessel, MV Undersea Explorer, or land based at our new and improved facilities..
This was a watershed moment for the atoll where Ian Gowrie-Smith visited and saw the reckless treatment of the islands which prompted him to buy them. Through the conservation of marine turtles, many other key species such as sharks and pelagic fish are now also protected.