Within six months from the commencement of the dredging component of the Arutanga Harbour Project in Aitutaki, locals are already beginning to reap some of the benefits.
Crowds of up to 50 people have been gathering at the harbour some days for a chance to fish for the ‘ature that have now returned to the newly deepened Arutanga basin.
“The return of the ‘ature into the harbour is a good sign that the harbour is deeper and cooler for the fish to return,” said Aitutaki resident Ariao.
Tamatoa Ariki agrees. “It is great to see the ‘ature return after more than 20 years,” he said. “I remember when canoes in the village would gather in the middle of the harbour to kupenga the ‘ature.”
Others have also commented on how good it is to see these fish return to and remain in the new harbour basin, with one local mama describing it as “a blessing” and that “it is great to see people across the island come to Arutanga to fish for Ature’’.
Allan Jensen, CEO of CIIC said “the Arutanga Harbour Project is part of the wider Aitutaki Island Plan that the Mayor and Island Government with the support of CIIC and Ports have been developing for a number of years now, and it was great to see the community benefiting from the project prior to its completion. “
Jensen also said, “the project is on track to have dredging and reclamation work of this first stage completed by August this year. Following the completion of the current dredging of the main passage being done now, will be further dredging of the two marine basins and improved port facilities for the crane and forklift operations. This will allow our current interisland vessels and the new patrol boat to enter the harbour and tie up alongside the Arutanga wharf.
“Once completed, the project will vastly improve the safety and usability of Aitutaki’s harbour and port, allowing for a continuous flow of cargo to the island as well as safe passage for small ships, yachts, and cruise ship tenders, while also continuing to provide fishing opportunities, in the newly deepened basins.”