Monday, December 2, 2013

SPREP launches scholarship as tribute to conservationist

Mr. Lui Bell

By Carolyn Kitione, Journalism Student of the University of South Pacific

3 December 2013, Suva Fiji - A lasting tribute has been made to prominent Samoan conservationist Lui Bell by establishing a scholarship in his name.

The scholarship will enable three post-graduate students a chance to further their studies on marine conservation.

Launching the Lui Bell Post-Graduate Scholarship for Marine Species Conservation at the Pacific Islands Environment Leadership Awards last night, SPREP Director General David Sheppard pledged $20,000 on behalf of the organisation to initiate the fund.

Mr. Bell was the Marine Species Adviser at SPREP when he passed away last year.

The scholarship is to honour the contributions to and sacrifice he made for marine conservation.
Honouring  Mr. Bell’s contribution to conservation, Mr. Sheppard said his “achievements will stand as a beacon for marine conservation in the Pacific region for decades and generations to come."

Mr. Bell was a "deeply committed conservationist" and spent over two decades as the driving force behind SPREP's Turtle Action Plans and the Turtle Research and Monitoring Database.

His leadership also resulted in the introduction of the Convention on Migratory Species and the negotiation of a Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Pacific Islands, which has 15 SPREP members as signatories.

The Convention on Migratory Species is an intergovernmental treaty concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale. Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau and Samoa are signatories to this convention.

The Conservation of Cetaceans is an international framework for coordinated conservation efforts which focus on whales, dolphins and porpoises.

According to Mr. Sheppard, the scholarship "will provide financial support to Pacific Islands nationals undertaking studies in marine science, with a focus on conservation of threatened marine species."

"Our target is to achieve a permanent minimum annual funding pool of US$60,000 and to provide for three post-graduate students," he said.

The first call for applications will be made in March next year, and will close in June, with a decision on the successful applicants to be announced in July.

Carolyn Kitione is a member of the Media Team providing coverage of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas from 2 to 6 December in Suva, Fiji.  This is a partnership between the Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP), SPREP and Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) whereby a team of 10 journalism students are mentored by senior reporters as they cover the conference.  This activity is  funded by the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme (PACMAS).

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