The stopover of the Soleal at the Kouaré islet is controversial

At the start of the week, the Soleal cruise ship stopped at Kouaré islet, arousing the indignation of some lagoon users and customary residents of Ouen Island. For them, this stopover threatens the place listed as a UNESCO heritage site. For its part, the southern province believes that the company respects the regulations and says it is in favor of this so-called “expedition” tourism. »

Head to Kouaré for an inventory. On Monday, like many Caledonians, the customary people of Ouen Island discovered a post showing the Soleal and its passengers stopping over on the islet. For them, “it is inadmissible for a cruise ship to anchor in this area listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, placed under the supervision of the Ouen Island management committee.

“We are not aware at all that this liner was going to come to anchor at Kouaré islet.deplores Pascal Wadecla, member of the council of clan chiefs on Ouen Island. Especially since this area, as I said, is part of the customary area. So the customary view is ours. For me, it’s an insult to the Kanak people.”

In addition, indignant the customary, these cruise lines disturb seabirds in the middle of the nesting period. “We saw lots of bird’s nestsx, says Louis Combo, president of the council of chiefs of clans of the island Ouen. They are in full lay. There are plenty of eggs. Turtle nests on the other side. Hence the anger. Arriving earlier, they were all excited. After 20-30 minutes they became calm again. I imagine the people around the islet. How long were they there? One o’clock? Two o’clock? The birds had to be confused.”

Birds closely monitored by the nature guards of the southern province. If these noddies seem not very sensitive to human presence, certain species such as terns are very vulnerable. When they nest on the ground, the nature wardens hoist the red flag signifying “no landing”. For now, no flag. Soleal passengers were therefore well authorized on Kouaré, an island open to the public.

If the noddies seem not very sensitive to human presence, certain species such as terns are very vulnerable.

©Caroline Antic-Martin and Nicolas Fasquel / NC the 1st

“We had the nature wardens who, yesterday, made a trip to the site and they were able to see in the field that there was no environmental impact on either the fauna or the flora, assures Nicolas Pebay, director of sustainable development of the territories at the southern province. There were no abandoned nests or broken branches. After having taken information from the captain of the boat on the way back, the anchorage had been made in the right place.

In addition, insists the South Province, the Compagnie du Ponant, which has been certified and labeled many times, practices cruise tourism that respects the environment.

“The Compagnie du Ponant responds completely to the sustainable tourism development strategy of the southern province since we are really on a clientele who wishes to discover the fauna and flora, indicates Iolani Martin, head of the tourism department of the southern province. These are expedition stopovers supervised by naturalists. These are people who are keen to discover the people, culture and biodiversity of New Caledonia.”

This Thursday morning, the customary people of Ouen Island were received by the government. Decision was taken to cancel the stopover of Soleal on Kouaré, scheduled for tomorrow, Friday.

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