09.27.2014 REGIONAL: Leaders Make Visionary Commitments To Island Sustainability and Resilience

Apia, Samoa (3 September 2014) – Islands countries and countries with islands have made bold commitments to build resilient and sustainable island communities through innovative partnerships during a high level event in Apia, Samoa.
The event was hosted by H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., President of Palau as Co-Chair of Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) alongside Seychelles’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Hon. Jean-Paul Adam and Grenada’s Minister of State for Information, Communication and Technology, The Honorable Alvin Dabreo during the Third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States (UNSIDS). 

“What do all of these leaders have in common? They all have a history of active and progressive support for moving our islands’ sustainability agenda forward and in focusing our efforts on preserving our marine environment,” stated President Remengesau who opened the event. 

The participating leaders committed to: 

Palau, H.E. President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr.  Palau has committed to advancing protection of oceans by announcing the Palau National Marine Sanctuary. This Sanctuary will establish a no-take that covers more than 80% of the Palau Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) including a highly regulated Fishing Zone that covers approximately 20% of the EEZ and a complete prohibition on purse seine fishing that covers 100% of the EEZ. In addition, Palau will establish a prohibition on fish exports and create a reformed modern domestic commercial long-line fishing fleet with observer oversight on 100% of its vessels.

08.21.2014: POHNPEI The Association for the Promotion of International Cooperation gives $10,000 for Micronesia Challenge

Photo MCT
On August 21, 2014, Kolonia, Pohnpei, Mr. Megumi Araki, the Director of the Association for the Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC), presented Mr. Willy Kostka, Executive Director of the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT), a check for $10,000.  The Honorable Shoji Sato, former Ambassador to the FSM from Japan and his colleagues, Prof. Takashi Hayashita, President of Sophia University, Prof. Hiroshi Yamamoto, President of Sophia Junior College and Mr. Yoshihiko Miwa, Director of General Affairs Bureau of Sophia University witnessed the handover. The APIC funds are aimed at a Micronesia Challenge and Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) project, “Enhance the awareness of the Micronesia Challenge among the donors, thereby increasing financial and technical support.”  Specifically, the funds will support the printing of 600 booklets entitled, “We are One: Business Plan and Conservation Campaign – Micronesia Challenge.”  The grant will also fund distribution of the booklets at high level events during the UN Small Island Developing States Conference in Samoa in September and at the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties in South Korea in October.  To raise the awareness of the Challenge, MCT and members of the Micronesia Challenge (MC) Steering Committee and the Regional Coordinating Office will distribute booklets to heads of states, ministers, donors, and technical/development partners who can potentially support the Micronesia Challenge.  The ultimate goal of the project is to garner increased awareness of and leverage additional support for the Micronesia Challenge, globally.

The Micronesia Challenge is a commitment made by the leaders of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), U.S. Territory of Guam and U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020. For more information about the Micronesia Challenge, please visit www.micronesiachallenge.org.

08.13.14 PALAU: PAN Conservation Officers Training Begins

On Monday, August 11, 2014 Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) hosted a brief opening ceremony of the Palau Protected Network (PAN) Conservation Officer Training at the PICRC Kedarm Conference Room. The ceremony was opened by the PICRC CEO Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, followed by special remarks by the Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, Honorable Umiich Sengebau, Dr. Patrick U. Tellei, President of Palau Community College (PCC) and His Excellency Kazuhiro Tajiri, Ambassador of the Embassy of Japan and closed by Director Matsui Nobuaki of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Palau Office.  Over thirty participants attended the ceremony included Governors, Browny Salvador from Ngarchelong, Renguul Masahiro from Ngardmau, Tmewang Rengulbai from Airai and Maria Gates from Angaur State. Koror State Director Jose Ise, Administrative Officer Ernest Ongidobel, PAN Coordinators and conservation officers from the states of Koror, Ngardmau, Angaur, Ngaraard, Ngarchelong, Airai, and Kayangel and the staff of PICRC, PAN Office, PAN Fund and Japan Embassy were also present at the ceremony.
Front Row (PICRC CEO Dr. Golbuu, Director Ise and CAO Mr. Ongidobel of Koror State, Director Nobuaki of JICA Palau Officer, PCC President Dr. Tellei, Governor Rengulbai of Airai, Ambassor Tajiri of the Embassy of Japan, Governor Meltel of Angaur, Governor Salvador of Ngarchelong, Governor Masahiro of Ngardmau, and Minister Sengebau of MNRET posing at the staff of PICRC, Japan Embassy, PAN Fund, PAN Office, PAN Coordinators and Conservation Officers from several states.)
 After the ceremony, the PAN Conservation training began at the PICRC Student Lab. PICRC Researchers, Marine Gouezo, Lincoln Rehm and Shirley Koshiba together with the Head of Research and Aquarium Department Geraldine Rengiil are conducting the training to a selected number of PAN conservation officers. Lessons and field activities during the training includes proper ecological methods in monitoring of MPAs; identification of corals, fish, invertebrates, seagrass; and managing and conserving our marine resources.

The purpose of the training is to help provide support in areas that conservation officers need and to be certified in managing their state Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Collaborating with PCC and PANO to conduct the training with the technical assistance of JICA and Palau Coral Reef Island Ecosystem (P-CoRIE) fulfill PICRC’s mission in supporting conservation and management for the perpetuation of marine and associated environments through research and education that is significant to Palau and relevant to the world.

08.07.14 From the August Newsletter

Conservation International Completes $3 Million Payment to Micronesia Challenge 
by Emmeline Johansen

Photo by Emmeline Johansen
    Koror, Palau/Arlington, Va. USA – At the Pacific Oceanscape Leaders Reception, the day before the 45th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) begins, Conservation International (CI), the leading global organization that focuses on the links between development and the environment to benefit human well-being, provided the final investment toward its endowment to sustainably finance the Micronesia Challenge. 
    Greg Stone, CI Chief Scientist and Executive Vice President of The Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans, presented the President of the Republic of Palau, His Excellency Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., and President of the Federated States of Micronesia, H.E. Emanuel Mori each with a cheque of US$1 million. This follows CI’s completion of its US$1 million contribution to the Republic of the Marshall Islands last year.
    The Micronesia Challenge funding was made possible via CI’s Global Conservation Fund (GCF). CI-New Zealand and Pacific Islands Executive Director Sue Taei reaffirmed the importance of sustainable financing for such initiatives. “This investment provides important financing for protected area networks that have significant running costs to ensure that they are effectively safeguarded, that local communities benefit from them and that their inherent value is maintained in perpetuity.”
    Taei further highlighted the link of the Pacific Oceanscape an initiative by the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to foster ocean stewardship and integrated management, and CI’s investment in the Micronesia Challenge. “The Micronesia Challenge is a significant part of the Pacific Oceanscape framework. The Challenge has inspired other bold ocean management initiatives including the Caribbean Challenge, the Coral Triangle Initiative, and the newly launched Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge. Such commitments represent a sea change in ocean conservation — one that will help provide food and livelihoods for people in the region and around the world.”
    Contact: Emmeline Johansen, ejohansen.conservation@gmail.com.

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.
For more information visit www.picrc.org or “Like” PICRC on Facebook.