CSP holds successful 13th Annual Marine Protected Area Cross-Site Visit at Ant Atoll
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- Published: Wednesday, 21 December 2016 09:42
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Conservation Society of Pohnpei - DEC 2016
Annually, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) brings together all of the communities responsible for protecting the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around Pohnpei to do a cross-site visit to on of the MPAs so that sharing of information and best practices can take place. This year, from November 25th & 26th, the cross-site visit was held at Ant Atoll Biosphere Reserve and hosted by Mr. Willy Hawley, Rohsa Kitti, who is administrator of the Nanpei Estate. The
theme for this year was: “Keirdahn epwilipen kepikipik ohng ieias en met dih en mwuhr”
(Increasing the management of what God created for our lives today and for future generations)
Besides the Ant Atoll Biosphere Reserve, the MPA’s represented were Woaun Koapin Soamwoai (WKS) of the Nahtik MPA & Enipein Mangrove Reserve, Palikir MPA – Sokehs, Sapwitik MPA – Nett, Nanpwap MPA– Madolenihmw, Dehpehk/Takaieu MPA – U, Pakin – Sokehs, and Peniou Island – Kitti.
On the first day, site updates were giving by the Community Conservation Officers (CCO) from each of the groups on their annual work plans from the previous cross-site visit held at Lenger Island. Each site reported their success and challenges in 2016 except the Palikir community since the Palikir Pass MPA is new this year and this is their first time to participate in cross-site visit.
For the Dehpehk/Takaieu MPA, they reported that poaching still exist at night. CCOs have been successful in securing a boat and outboard motor for surveillance and monitoring work. They have also continued sponge and coral farming with MERIP.
For the WKS (Nahtik) MPA, they have delineated their watershed boundary, started a water quality project with EPA to clean rivers and streams, signed an MOU between WKS and Kitti Municipal Government for co-management of reserves, held spatial planning consultations to extend the Nahtik MPA, completed a community fisheries assessment, and started the construction of a guard house to provide better surveillance of their protected areas. They noted their challenges of inactive MPA surveillance due to boat and motor problems, and their aquaculture projects still not started.
The Nanwap (Madolenihmw) MPA has an active community surveillance program with a boat and motor and 2 kayaks for monitoring, and they are doing a fisheries assessment in their community. Their challenges are that their management plan is still pending with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), they are receiving no government assistance for their efforts in protecting/monitoring their MPA, and they have pending cases with Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) that have not been completed.
The Sapwitik (Nett) MPA has seen the bumphead parrotfish population bouncing back in and around their MPA, they have completed their fisheries management plan and secured a boat and motor for surveillance and monitoring. As a bonus, the Nett District Government supports their surveillance. The challenges they are facing are that they have the smallest MPA community with only 5 CCOs and they need to revive their aquaculture projects with MERIP.
The Pakin MPA has completed their pearl farm management project with Small Grants Program where community members have been trained in pearl management and clam shell ornaments; they are implementing their fisheries management plan and have installed inshore fish aggregating devices (FAD), and they have installed their communication system (cell phone).
Their challenges are communication between the Pakin Community Association (PCA) and community members due to distance; 2 of their boats are not working and they need an upgrade on their solar system.
The Ant Biosphere Reserve has ongoing surveillance with 5 active rangers. They have their solar system in place and ongoing grants with MCT. As a bonus, they have seen an uptick in tourism. Their challenges are 4 pending cases with DFW; no support from government, and the Biosphere Reserve has not been legally recognized with Pohnpei State Government.
On the second day the partner agencies gave presentations. Key partner agencies presented their roles in coastal resource management to enhance awareness and build stronger partnership with the MPA communities. The Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture (OFA)–is currently piloting aquaculture projects at 2 areas. The first is Nett Point (in partnership with COM) – where they have a nursery for mangrove crab, rabbit fish and clams. The second is the APSCO area testing fish pond and crab pond. All these nurseries, if successful, will be distributed to interested fisherman around the island to help reduce fishing pressure and open alternative sources of income generating. OFA also supports MPA communities and offers basic maintenance assistance.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) – is currently operating with 8 deputized police officers, tasked with managing and patrolling all marine sanctuaries with a lack of resources. DFW can provide basic surveillance trainings to CCOs. Currently they are working with municipal police in monitoring and patrolling the Pohnpei watershed forest reserve along with all conservation laws.
The FSM Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM) – is implementing the GEF5 Ridge to Reef project. Key components for the Ridge to Reef (R2R) project are to complete the Protected Area (PA) action plan for 2017. The R2R project is willing to provide financial support to the MPA network action plan for 2017.
Usually, in the past cross-site visits, CCOs breaks out by respective MPAs to draft annual work plans or action plans. Due to time constraints, the group agreed to do a plenary on issues and ways forward collectively. As a result, three key areas were highlighted for all MPAs to focus
on. The group then tasked the MPA Executive Committee to endorse the key areas of focus and develop a schedule to visit each MPA to review and obtain community inputs. The three focus areas are communications, resource management and acquisition, and development of management plans for those MPAs that are without current plans.
The MPA Executive Committee set their outreach schedule to start with Dehpehk and Takaieu communities on December 14th and from there will continue to go around the island to assist with each MPA’s work and development. CSP would like to thank the Government Canada for supporting this initiative through a Canada Fund for Local Initiatives grant.