Environmental protection: Land and Sea
This new OPT-NC stamp issue on the theme of environmental protection was designed by New Caledonian artist Jipé Le Bars, who has over 40 years' experience working with indigenous artists and art from across the Pacific. This issue takes the form of an illustrated sheet of 5 diptychs featuring the Mount Panié Kauri and the protection of sea cucumbers from overfishing in New Caledonia’s waters.
Protecting sea cucumbers: combating overfishing
Around 20 species of sea cucumbers can be found in New Caledonia's lagoon; a dozen of these species are prized for their high market value and are mainly exported to Asian dried seafood markets as bêche-de-mer. Sea cucumbers have been fished in New Caledonia since 1840 but have only really been threatened by overfishing in the last ten years. Overfishing has led some countries to ban sea cucumber fishing altogether for several years. These strange creatures play a vital role in their natural habitat, helping to clean and aerate the ocean floor. So far, there has been no need to ban the fishing of sea cucumbers in New Caledonia, but local authorities have amended current regulations to respond to market pressure. “Provincial and customary authorities, working with fishermen operating in a pilot area, have successfully developed a quota co-management system, but large-scale deployment of the scheme presents problems”, explains Pascal Dumas, Senior Researcher - Ecology and Management of Benthic Resources at IRD.
The Mount Panié Kauri
Mount Panié Wilderness Reserve stretches over around 5,400 hectares in the municipality of Hienghène and encompasses New Caledonia’s largest forest massif, home to a wealth of plant and wildlife species, over 80% of which are endemic. Treasures include thousand-year-old kauri trees, including the micro-endemic species, Agathis montana, Dayu Biik in the Némi language, a member of the Araucariaceae family. For the last fifteen years, the species has been subject to decline and has been listed on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered (CR) since 2014. Kauris are under threat from climate change and soil erosion due to digging and rooting by invasive feral swine. To help support biodiversity preservation in the Mount Panié area, Dayu Biik Association has set up a program to combat invasive ungulates (rusa deer and feral swine), in collaboration with local communities and a number of partners.