Wednesday, September 27, 2006
During the MIC retreat, author, story-teller, cultural preservationist and MINA Board member, Lino Olopai showed a brief segment of a documentary film called, “Spirit of Voyage”, which highlighted the Pu’o Ceremony, the right of passage to become a traditional canoe voyager in the island of Satawal (between the FSM islands of Yap and Chuuk.) Olopai, a member of the Carolinian community of Saipan, also answered many questions and talked about his recently published book, “The Rope of Tradition”. The engaging, charismatic, and calm Olopai also took the time to sit down for a brief interview with Equator Magazine, a publication focusing on the unique environments and cultures of Micronesia, to appear within the premier issue before the end of the year.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Maintaining a tradition that started during the very first MIC retreat, participants took a day off from the meetings to visit conservation projects in the host country. Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (MINA) representatives led them to Saipan’s Lake Susupe, Obyan beach, and Managaha Island.Obyan beach is a turtle nesting area and the site of MINA's next conservation project. Through a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Islands Coastal Program, MINA will work with the Coastal Resources Management Office to protect the turtle nesting habitat. MINA and CRM will hold a series of public forums for nearby residents and users of the beach – one of Saipan’s most popular recreational areas – to solicit input on closing the beach to vehicle traffic. Managaha is a tiny island located in the Tanapag Lagoon. With white sand and clear waters, Managaha is one of Saipan's best beaches and a good place to snorkel. It is also a no-take Marine Protected Area, but conservation is deeply affected by mass tourism and development.
Monday, September 4, 2006
The Saipan retreat gave MIC members from Palau, FSM and Marshalls the opportunity to learn more about conservation in CNMI and meet conservation leaders and advocates based in Saipan. During an evening emceed by MINA Board Member Reina Camacho, MIC members and their prestigious guests watched presentations about various conservation projects in CNMI and interacted during a superb barbeque dinner at the beach.
Guests from CNMI:
Oscar Babauta – Speaker of the House of Representatives
Cinta Kaipat – House of Representatives
Dr. Ignacio Dela Cruz – Secretary of the Division of Lands and Natural Resources
Liz Rehebei – Joeten/Kiyu public library
Paz Younis – Executive director of the Humanities Council
Gus Kaipat – Legislative Bureau
Judy Torres – Marianas Visitors Authority
Angelo Villagomez – Marianas Resource Conservation and Development (and MINA)
Franz Reksid – Department of Public Lands
Laura Williams – Division of Fish and Wildlife
Kathy Yuknavage – Coastal Resources Management Office (and MINA)
Tim Lang – Coastal Resources Management Office
Tina Sablan – Division of Environmental Quality
Saturday, September 2, 2006
Qamar Schuyler, Treasurer of CNMI's conservation NGO MINA and one of the 33 participants to the MIC retreat, has described the four-day gathering in an article published in the Saipan Tribune on August 31. It was Qamar's first meeting with the MIC members. "I have never been to a conference that left me so full of energy" she said in a message to all of them. Yet all participants agree she contributed to that level of energy with her unforgettable jokes!
Friday, September 1, 2006
The MIC retreat has brought Caribbean and Micronesian conservation leaders closer than ever. After Willy Kostka's participation to the Caribbean Workshop on Protected Areas in Miami in June, a conservation leader from the Caribbean has visited Micronesia and joined the MIC members for the retreat in Saipan. Dr. Spencer Thomas is the Economic Policy Advisor to the Ministry of Finance of Grenada and also the Caribbean focal point for the Convention on Biological Diversity, the agreement signed by over 150 governments worldwide to promote sustainable development and protect biodiversity. Dr. Thomas was the keynote speaker at the opening dinner on Sunday 20. As Qamar Schuyler wrote in her article for the Saipan Tribune (see post above), during his speech, Dr. Thomas "spoke about the recent CBD meeting in Couritiba, Brazil (COP8) where the island states signed on to an Island Biodiversity Program of Work. This POW outlines how islands will meet the CBD's Millennium Development Goals, in which signatories agreed to create protected areas networks on both the land and sea by 2012. Thomas spoke of the need for island states to work together to increase their influence. He said that by uniting as islands, we will be able to gain more resources and bring our conservation agendas to the forefront. After all, islands states support one quarter of the world's population, and are responsible for over half of the tropical marine biodiversity."From left to right: Albon Ishdoa (Marshall Islands), Ricky Carl (Pohnpei, FSM), Dr. Spencer Thomas (Grenada), Patterson Shed (Pohnpei, FSM) and Madison Nena (Kosrae, FSM)