In 1981, the Isabel provincial government first recognized the importance of the Arnavon Islands as a nesting ground for Hawksbill turtles, and designated the islands as a Wildlife
Sanctuary. At that time, however, the government did not adequately recognize the local communities' rights and the project failed. In 1989, the South Pacific Regional Environment
Programme (SPREP) collaborated with the Solomon Islands government and the Ministry of Natural Resources (now the Ministry of Forestry, Environment and Conservation or MFEC) to
survey the Hawksbill turtle nesting beaches and populations in the northern Solomon Islands including the Amavons. The surveys documented the severe depletion of the Hawksbill turtle
population due to the turtle shell (bekko) export trade which has flourished in recent years. As a result of the surveys interest was renewed for conservation in the area and local communities were approached for their support in establishing a conservation area. Through its close association with
SPREP and MFEC, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) was invited by the government to take a leading role in developing and implementing a marine conservation area project to protect turtle nesting beaches and other important marine and island species on the Arnavon Islands.

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