Wednesday, June 18, 2008

SEM-Pasifika Training Program -- Majuro

From May 4-9, a SEM-Pasifika (socio-economic monitoring) training program began in Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Eighteen trainees attended from around the region including American Samoa, Hawaii, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Yap. Also attending, were representatives from various Marshall Islands resource agencies and local community members from Arno atoll.

The objectives of the week-long training were to: 1) provide the participants with background, purposes and methodological procedures of socioeconomic monitoring based on SEM-Pasifika Guidelines, 2) build capacity of the participants to use SEM-Pasifika guidelines, and 3) initiate socioeconomic assessment and monitoring /work plans /for 8 Pacific Island jurisdictions.

To fulfill these objectives this training program was designed to be carried out in three phases. The first phase (the RMI training) was aimed at introducing and practicing socio-economic tools and techniques. Participants were asked to attend the training with information from a specific site that had a complete or draft management plan. They used information from their site management plan to carry out socio-economic assessment preparatory activities (e.g. identify goals, objectives, information needs, and indicators) and develop a work plan to complete an assessment. For the field exercise, the RMI team provided workshop participants with information about the management goals from the Arno atoll management plan. The workshop group used this information to carry out a focus group, and develop, pre-test, and analyze a survey to capture baseline information and assess management effectiveness of Arno, Arno MPAs.

Specific outputs of the workshop include:
  • a pre-tested draft survey to be used by the Marshall Islands team to carry out socio-economic assessments in Arno and other atolls.

  • 8 workplans that include next steps and time-lines for completing social assessments at jurisdictional sits.

  • draft preparatory activities completed by each jurisdiction including socio-economic assessment goals, objectives, informationneeds, indicators, stakeholder identification, and communications planning

  • an agreement to pick 2-3 regional socio-economic indicators that all groups will try and incorporate into local assessments and monitor over time.
For the second phase of the SEM-Pasifika training program, off-site technical advice will be provided to further guide development of surveys, and seed funding will be provided to implement site assessments in all jurisdictions.

Finally, on-site technical support will be provided to help trainees analyze survey data and communicate and apply results into management planning. Workshop attendees agreed to share assessment reports and lessoned learned about their sites to support further learning in the region. Outcomes of this training will support development and adaptive management of on-site management activities.

Additionally, the training outputs will provide socio-economic information to conservation efforts and measures of success that contribute to the goals of the Micronesia Challenge.
This training is sponsored and facilitated through a partnership between NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program - SocMon, the Micronesians in Island Conservation (MIC), the Pacific Islands Marine Protected Area Community (PIMPAC), and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP.)

10th MIC Retreat -- Guam

On April 14, 2008 members of the Micronesians in Island Conservation (MIC) met in Guam for the 10th MIC retreat. Every nine months members of MIC, from the Republic of the Marshalls, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, Territory of Guam and the Common Wealth of the Northern Marianas, meet to review progress on goals, share lessons learned, and identify issues for collaboration at local, national or regional levels. The retreats provide: 1) opportunities for members to point out specific needs and identify mentors for future learning exchanges; 2) a means for members to stay connected with ongoing conservation work in other Micronesian countries and; 3) it allows members to reconnect with their peers and be a source of encouragement to each other.

During the retreat MIC members were inspired by many Guam community conservation leaders such as Linda Tatreau, a high school teacher at George Washington High school who created a program called Marine Maniacs which has inspired her students to take a more proactive approach to preserving the natural heritage of Guam; by Daniel Vice, assistant director of Department of Fish and Wildlife who shared with members about Guam’s continuing efforts to control the brown tree snake population in Guam; and finally by Cheryl Calaustro, the Guam Rare Pride Campaign Coordinator, who discussed with MIC the Cocos Island bird restoration project.

Mr. Tukabu Teroroko, Director of the Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA), Kiribait, was invited to the retreat to share with the MIC members about the ongoing conservation work in the Phoenix Islands. Mr. Teroroko shared with members the success of PIPA and discussed with members the current challenges that face Kiribati in maintaining and regulating the vast protected area. At the end of the retreat, Mr. Teroroko was invited to become a member of MIC, which he accepted. Mr. Teroroko stated that he felt MIC was an important initiative and one that would add value to his ongoing work in Kiribati. Mr. Teroroko also pledged that his organization would assist MIC by writing into his PIPA budget his attendance to future MIC retreats.

MIC gained three new members: 1) Fran Castro, director of Department of Environment Quality and the Micronesia Challenge focal point for CNMI; 2) Cheryl Calaustro, Guam Department of Agriculture and the RARE Pride Campaign Coordinator and; 3) Tukabu Teroroko, director of the Phoenix Island Protected Areas.

The next MIC Retreat will be held sometime in January 2009, in Pohnpei. The main focus of the 11th MIC Retreat will be sustainable financing for the MIC network, identifying a regional goal, and building the capacity of the members to help them achieve their institutional goals.

The Passing of a Conservation Champion

When Dakio Paul returned to the small pacific island of Pohnpei in 1990 after nearly two decades of working and living in Saipan, he immediately went back to the place that represented the best of his childhood memories--Black Coral Island, known locally as Kehpara.

From February to April of each year, the reefs around Black Coral were famous for the largest recorded fish spawning aggregation in the Western Pacific – between 15,000-20,000 adult individuals aggregated for 2-3 months along a 200 meter stretch of reef just east of Black Coral Island.

In partnership with Pohnpei’s Marine Resources Division, Dakio announced to the adjacent communities that Black Coral was now closed to fishing. At first, the local community, many of Dakio’s own family members, were resistant. Fisherman challenged Dakio’s right to close the area, which by law was “public waters.” Night and day, local fisherman trespassed into the area and still fished.

With only his boat and a 15 horse-power engine, Dakio patrolled the waters and enforced his fishing ban 24 hours a day. After nearly three years of constant vigilance, local fishermen began to notice a difference – fish population and sizes increased not only in the protected area but also in adjacent areas, a spill-over effect. Astonished fishermen, converted by their own observations, spread the news of Dakio’s success to their colleagues around the island.

On a larger scale, Dakio’s pioneering efforts have helped to build national support to move forward on a national system of parks and protected areas for the entire Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). In 2004, the FSM joined 188 other nations in ratifying the Convention on Biological Diversity Program of Work on Protected Areas. Thanks to Dakio’s dedicated work, and that of other environmentalists like him, the community-led marine protected area movement in FSM offers hope for the future.

Sadly on March 18, 2008 Dakio passed away. His memory will continue to live on in efforts of so many people, such as the Marine Conservation Unit of the Conservation Society of Pohnpei.