A petition against the removal of mangrove and seabed dredging at Nawi Island in Savusavu has attracted 3869 signatures, as of February 24.
The Save Savusavu Bay campaign was spearheaded by residents of the tourism town on Vanua Levu (Fiji’s second largest island) who say deforestation and dredging of Nawi is threatening local livelihoods, safety, ecology and the environment.
Nawi Island lays across from Savusavu’s CBD, and its development company, Nawi Island Limited is undertaking the construction of a marina, 5-star resort and residential lots, following approval from authorities.
Organizers of the petition say they have found it difficult to obtain copies of the development’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
“We are yet to meet with authorities to discuss as we are hoping to obtain a copy of the EIA, so that we would be better informed, prior to any meeting,” petition organizers noted.
“It is proving impossible to obtain a copy of the EIA, despite the fact that the local council (Savusavu Town Council) have a copy there. They will not allow us to take photos or photocopies of the document, and the Department of Environment want to charge us almost $3000 for a copy. We find this quite perturbing, when we can readily and freely access an EIA for the Savusavu Biomass Power Station online, so why not the Nawi Island development?”
Considering the public outcry, Nawi Island Limited issued a public statement last month, insisting that they have implemented best practise methods to design an economically feasible and sustainable tourism project with an international profile.
“Environment controls such as silt curtains, earth bunds, sediment ponds, etc are in place to mitigate impacts and are working well,” the company stated.
They confirmed the installation of Aqua Dam- a portable dam to divert the flow of water- alongside existing controls to allow the marina excavation to be carried out
“Aqua Dam will be installed alongside exiting controls to allow the marina excavation to be carried out “in the dry”. This means that the excavation will be isolated from the sea with no disturbance to marine life while it is being carried out. Nawi has engaged experienced subcontractors to carry out the construction using this best practice solution.
This is the first time an Aqua Dam is being used in Fiji, a precedent of great environmental significance. It is important for the residents and those concerned to understand how these methodologies work. We have worked hard on our environmental plan and we will work equally hard to ensure that its targets are met during construction.”
The petition is addressed to the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Parveen Kumar.