07.21.14 PALAU: PICRC, PCC and PAN Office join forces to pilot a marine ecological monitoring course

PICRC, PCC and PAN Office join forces to pilot a marine ecological monitoring course
Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC), Palau Community College (PCC) and Protected Areas Network (PAN) Office work together to offer a course on ecological monitoring of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for the state conservation officers of Palau. This course will be offered at PICRC from August 11 to 22, 2014.

The key fundamentals of ecological monitoring using the standardized protocol to assess the effectiveness of MPAs in Palau will be covered in this course. Utilizing both theory and field practices, the course aim to increase the competency of students to collect, assemble and analyze basic field data. 

The content of the course includes lectures on how to monitor MPAs, methods used to measure the different ecological indicators, group exercises, field practices, and assessments. At the end of the course, students will hold a presentation on the data they collected at the MPA surveyed during field practices and will demonstrate what they have learned and achieved throughout the 2-weeks course.
The course contains a total of 6 competencies in which 4 are theory based. Students are expected to fully understand the objectives of ecological monitoring, the steps to follow when conducting ecological monitoring, how to develop a sampling design, and the methods used to measure the selected ecological indicators. Grading will range from 3 for excellence, 2 for average and 1 for not acceptable. 
Photo: PICRC

For the theory competencies, students will be expected to pass with a minimum grade of 2. For the field and data analysis competencies, grading will be more flexible as this will require long hours of practice before being competent in measurement of all ecological indicators and data management.

The purpose of this course is to provide training to build on the capacity of local conservation officers to collect and analyze marine ecological data. Data collected at PAN marine site in Palau will be used to assess their effectiveness over time and allow managers to make better decisions about their design and enforcement. This course is open to conservation officers from states with marine PAN sites. All participants should have at least a high school diploma and be able to swim and snorkel. Training on SCUBA will be provided before the start of the course. Due to logistical constraints, this pilot course will only accept limited number of conservation officers from states that has marine PAN site(s). If this pilot course is successful and additional course are needed, they will be offered in the future. For more information about the course, please contact Ms. Geraldine Rengiil at 488-6850 or e-mail at grengiil@picrc.org.

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PICRC is committed to guide efforts supporting coral reef stewardship through research and its applications for the people of Palau, Micronesia, and the world. For more information about the PICRC’s Research and Aquarium Programs, visit www.picrc.org or “Like” PICRC on Facebook. 

07.21.14 PALAU: PICRC conducts research to assess the impact of the El Niño on Palau’s reefs

An El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event, also known as El Niño, is predicted to continue to develop throughout this summer and into 2015. In Palau, this phenomenon leads to severe droughts and high seawater temperatures. The result of abnormally high water temperature, from weeks to months, causes corals to bleach.


Photo: PICRC
When the seawater temperature is above a threshold, most corals no longer cope with the temperature stress, and release their symbionts. Losing their symbionts not only makes corals appear completely white, but this loss also deprives corals of their major food source. Symbionts photosynthesize and supply corals with food. Most corals will die of starvation after losing their symbionts. The last global bleaching event happened in 1998, as a result of an ENSO event, although a smaller, regional bleaching event also occurred in 2010.

From June to July 2014, the PICRC research team conducted a survey to assess the status of Palau’s reefs at their 22 permanent monitoring sites. This survey was purposefully done before a possible bleaching event. These underwater surveys followed the standardized monitoring protocol, recording data on benthic cover (photo quadrats) and on the abundance and size estimates of fishes and invertebrates. Throughout the entire summer period, PICRC also closely monitored seawater temperature using underwater data loggers.

In case of the occurrence of a bleaching event, which is expected in late July to early August in 2015, PICRC will do a large scale, rapid survey of 80 sites during the bleaching event to assess where and which corals bleach. Follow-up surveys will be conducted at the 22 permanent sites will be conducted after the bleaching event to examine mortality and recovery from bleaching. Data collected will help the researchers understand the effects of a bleaching event on the whole reef community, including invertebrates and fishes, in Palau.

At a time of rapid global climate change, ENSO events accompanied with the occurrence of abnormally high seawater temperature are predicted to occur more frequently and intensely. Therefore, it is essential to understand where corals bleach, and which corals die or recover, during these events. Judging by the last ENSO event, it has been shown that some reefs around Palau are more temperature tolerant than others, and are therefore more adapted to survive in waters with higher temperature. The research by PICRC will help to identify where these temperature-tolerant reefs are located in Palau so that they can be given special focus for protection. These special areas might hold the key to our reefs survival in an increasingly warming world.
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For more information visit www.picrc.org or “Like” PICRC on Facebook.
 

07.04.14 FSM Congress Recognized for Climate Change Adaptation

Photo: Kaselehie Press
POHNPEI, FSM (Kaselehlie Press, July 1, 2014) – The FSM was awarded a Globe award for its Climate Change legislation during a meeting of more than 70 parliaments and houses of Congress in Mexico City. On June 6-8, Sens. Yosiwo George, David W. Panuelo, and Berney Martin represented the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia at the GLOBE International World Summit of Legislators in Mexico City. Globe International or the Global Legislators Organization is a non-profit political organization that seeks to advance law on climate change, national capital accounting, and forests. During the 2nd World Summit of Legislators meeting, Panuelo co-chaired a parallel session with a legislator from Bangladesh. The session addressed Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. At the end of the summit two awards were presented for efforts on climate change policy and adaptation. The FSM Congress received recognition for the Climate Change Act it passed late last year. Senator Panuelo had the honor of receiving the award on behalf of the 18th FSM Congress at which time he thanked the Summit of World Legislators and the Globe International Secretariat for the award. “While the FSM is the only recipient country for such an award, the significance of the award is that it reflects the collective leadership of world legislators in the fight against climate change,” he told the gathered legislators.


07.02.14: From the July 2014 Newsetter

:: POHNPEI
Pohnpei State PAN Design Workshop Held June 18-20, 2014 by Liz Terk

Photo by CSP

    The Pohnpei State Protected Area Network (PAN) Design Workshop was held in Pohnpei on June 18th-20th, 2014. The workshop was the first step in the process of using spatial planning to redesign Pohnpei’s PAN to better meet the goals of Pohnpei state and incorporate resiliency into the design.
    The workshop was jointly hosted by The Nature Conservancy, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei and Pohnpei State Governor John Ehsa. Participants included staff from local and regional NGOs, Pohnpei State government agencies and the leaders of Pohnpei State’s Marine Advisory Council (MAC).
    The purpose of this workshop was to agree on the goals of Pohnpei’s PAN, understand the principles of protected area design and gather data and knowledge from community leaders to help assess and make recommendations on how to redesign Pohnpei’s PAN.  Topics during the workshop included how the process for selecting PAN sites was improved and how new science is contributing to this. It was interesting to see that some of what was considered ‘new science’ was already known by members of the MAC who are traditional leaders and extremely knowledge fishermen.
     For example improved knowledge of fish movement patterns is being used to ensure MPAs are the right size to protect target fish species. MAC members already new the movements of several of these fish species, but were interested to learn how this knowledge could improve MPA design. When the local fishing knowledge was combined with the principles for design of resilient MPAs it was very clear as to why Pohnpei’s PAN needed to be redesigned to be more effective as well as the need for fisheries management in addition to MPAs.
    The next steps for the project includes presentations to the MAC, Pohnpei state Locally Managed Marine Area Executive Committe and the Pohnpei Watershed Alliance Committee on what was covered and learned during the workshop. After an initial analysis is conducted of the data, visits will be made to municipal governments and communities to conduct outreaches on resilient PA design and to get feedback on the first round of PAN design options based on the initial analysis. 

06.24.14 PALAU: PICRC and PCA Join Forces

Release by PICRC. Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) and Palau Community College (PCC) signed a historic agreement on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, to work together to implement an ecological monitoring certification program at PCC.  The agreement brings two of Palau’s premier organizations with very unique and specialized expertise together to support capacity building for conservation officers and Protected Area Network (PAN) coordinators.  PICRC brings its expertise in coral reef research and monitoring to the partnership while PCC brings its long history and expertise in offering educational and training programs.  Both organizations are supported by PAN Office, Palau Coral Reef and Island Ecosystem Project (P-CoRIE) and JICA, in their effort to develop the ecological monitoring certification program.

The signing was held at PCC Assembly Hall by Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, Chief Executive Officer of the PICRC, and Dr. Patrick U. Tellei, President of PCC.  It was witnessed by staff members from PICRC, PCC, Protected Area Network (PAN) Office, P-CoRIE, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Chair of Association of PAN coordinators and PAN coordinators from the states of Koror, Ngaraard, Ngardmau, and Ngiwal.

The purpose of the collaboration between PICRC and PCC is to jointly develop and implement a training program according to the best practices and standards of PCC; provide and educate the trainers that will eventually conduct the courses of the program; provide other resources needed to conduct the program; issue certificates for successful completion of the program; and continuously evaluate, modify, and improve the program.  It is designed to join the forces of both parties in order to provide proper training in the development of the local capacity to preserve and protect Palau’s pristine natural environment.

The program will prepare individual state conservation programs to comply with the PAN requirements.  It will also provide the ecological background for conservation work.  The courses will be offered through the PCC Continuing Education (CE) and, while it is intended for Palau’s PAN conservation officers and coordinators, interested community members may participate in the program.


06.09.14 CommuniTV Launches!


:: PARTNERS
Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program Featured in First CommuniTV Episode by Michael Lameier

    The Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program (GCCRMP) is featured in the first episode of CommuniTV that documented a Learning Exchange between Guam, Saipan, and Hawaii.  CommuniTv’s first episode shares the experiences of GCCRMP members and partners with Hawaii counterparts as they talked about community involvement in environmental conservation and education. 
    This episode can be viewed on GCCRMP’s YouTube channel by clicking here.    
     “The Learning Exchange was a great opportunity for members and partners to get new ideas in working with their communities to be stewards of Guam’s environment, “said Val Brown, GCCRMP Science Coordinator.  “I’m glad we can see and listen to their experiences in Hawaii through CommuniTV.”
    CommuniTV will showcase other community initiatives by different Pacific Island communities that promote stewardship – from ridge to reef.  GCCRMP continues to support Learning Exchange participants’ goals and community activities of environmental education and stewardship.  This episode of CommuniTV was supported by the Pacific Island Managed and Protected Areas Community (PIMPAC) and the Micronesia Conservation Trust.  GCCRMP and PIMPAC are funded by NOAA’S Coral Reef Conservation Program.