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Palau Protected Areas Network (PAN) Concludes the PAN Recognition Program for FY2018 with a Learning Exchange to Long Beach, CA

PAN recognition program

Koror, Palau (July 13, 2018) – Palau Protected Areas Network Fund (PAN Fund) and Palau Protected Areas Network Office (PAN) concludes the PAN Recognition Program for fiscal year 2018 with a Learning Exchange to the 2018 Scuba Show in Long Beach, CA June 23- 24, 2018.

This year's recognition program was initiated with "Employee of the Year" program where PAN Members States (Governors and Coordinators) were given the opportunity to nominate their PAN employee of the year. Thirteen PAN employees were formally recognized and honored for their excellent work during the PAN Appreciation Event held on May 24, 2018.

The second part of the recognition program was implemented shortly after with the objective of rewarding PAN Member States meeting certain reporting criteria and their level of efforts in becoming a self-sufficient sites. Four PAN member states namely Ngarchelong State, Melekeok State, Ngeremlengui State and Ngardmau State received the highest scores and were formally rewarded with an opportunity to showcase their PAN program in the 2018 Scuba Show, in partnership with the Palau Visitors Authority, Palau Marine Sanctuary and Heirs to Our Ocean. Amongst the PAN member states participants were Paloma Swei representing Ngarchelong State, Loma-Linda Gabriel representing Melekeok State, Elicio Skebong representing Ngeremlengui State and Jennifer Kedals Ngiraiwet representing Ngardmau State.

The event was a huge success! PAN representatives had the chance to interact and mingle with both exhibitors, customers and other conservationist. PAN representatives also participated in a seminar hosted by the Palau Visitor's Authority and had the opportunity to showcase their individual State attraction to an audience of approximately 40 people. "It was an eye-opening experience that enabled us to market our conservation efforts" said the PAN member state participants. Both PAN Fund and PAN Office hope to capitalize on these partnerships to support PAN member States in developing and implementing site-based sustainable financing plan to complement the PAN Sustainable Financing Plan.


PAN Fund, MNRET and PICRC Join Forces to Support the Management of Helen Reef Conservation Area

Helen Reef Donation
Left-Right: Jun Ushibata (PAN Fund); Jovalyn Ilong Koshiba (PAN Fund); Ngiratmetuchel R. Belechl, AIF®, (Chairman of PAN Fund Board of Directors); Lincy Marino (PICRC); Randa Jonathan (PICRC); Minami Nagoya (PICRC)

Adaptive management of protected areas requires good information as a basis for decision making and management actions.  To support management of Palau’s MPAs, especially Protected Areas Network (PAN) marine sites, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) has been conducting studies to assess conditions of almost all of PAN marine sites.  Because of its remoteness and the cost required to conduct complete assessment of Helen Reef, PICRC has not conducted studies there since 2007.

Because of financial support from PAN Fund and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, PICRC was able to conduct comprehensive surveys at Helen Reef from June 7 to June 13, 2018.  During the surveys, researchers from PICRC assessed corals and other marine animals, big invertebrates such as sea cucumbers, clams and trochus.  The fish communities were also studied to determine biomass and abundance.  To assess the health of coral populations and future conditions, researchers also studied juvenile or baby corals to get a sense of how well future populations will thrive.

Despite its remoteness, monitoring Helen Reef Conservation Area remains critical to its management. Through ecological surveys PICRC is able to determine the status of conservation areas and provide recommendations to stakeholders and policy makers. In three days, PICRC researchers conducted 130 transects at 13 different sites around Helen Reef.  Now, they will analyze the data from this trip to determine the trends since the last survey in 2007.

Mr. Ngiratmetuchel R. Belechl, AIF®, Chairman of PAN Fund Board of Directors shares that “only through our partnership with PICRC can we better understand the ecological status of the Helen’s Reef Protected Areas over time.  The survey will also assist PANs understanding of the level of progress in site management and will help guide future management decisions toward effective management of protected areas.”


Marine Sanctuary Acts Reaches Second Year

Palau celebrated the second year since the signing of President Tommy Remengesau’s signature policy- Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act.

On October 28, 2015, Remengesau Jr., sign into law the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act. After a five-year transition period, the Palau National Marine Sanctuary will encompass over 80 percent of Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), an area of most 500,000 square kilometers. The remaining 20 percent will be reserved for traditional fishing and highly regulated and reformed domestic fishing fleet to serve only Palau’s domestic and tourism needs.

On its second year, Palau has been working with satellite technology providers like google, Vulcan and Ocean Mind to help monitor its waters.

According to PNMS Executive Director Keobel Sakuma. Palau is also receiving new patrol vessels from Japan’s Nippon foundation and Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

PSS Kedam is nearing completion with new maritime patrol officers being trained. The entire donation package is on schedule and slated to be delivered in February of 2018.

Australia has also committed to continue their assistance to Palau through the Pacific Maritime Security Program and will replace the aging PSS Remeliik with a new Patrol Vessel in 2019.

PNMS has also entered into an agreement with Pacific Mission Aviation, a local airline with operations in Palau and the FSM that will provide aerial surveillance to support the Marine Law patrols.

In January, the Pristine Paradise Environmental Impact Fee (PPEF), a key component of the marine sanctuary law will be implemented.

The new fee will be included in the ticket price for all travelers coming to Palau.

The estimated collection of the revenue for the PNMS alone will be approximately 1.4 million USD annually and about $2million USD do the states to replace any fishing revenue that has been diminished due to the ending of commercial fishing exports in 2020.

Palau is also developing strategy for the creation of the Domestic Fishing Zone covering 20 percent of Palau EEZ.

The report said that Palau is developing a domestic fishing plan that would allow vessels for a domestic fishing fleet; a central Fishing Auction and Processing, a Central Market in which the local fishermen can sell their catch; a wharf for the auction facility and central market; and fish aggregating Devices(FADS) within the Domestic Fishing Zone that will attract pelagic fish for benefit of the local domestic fishermen.

“Much has been achieved, yet the bulk of our remains to be undertaken. Only with patience and an understanding of the monumental effort required to effectively protect and manage an area of over 620,00 square kilometers will Palau succeed.” Sakuma stated.


Palau Becomes the Latest Member of PIDF at COP23

cop23BONN, 16 November 2017 (PIDF) — The COP23 Climate Conference has been a special place for the Pacific this year. Today the Republic of Palau signed of the instrument of accession to the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) making it the organization’s 14th member (12-member state).

 

 


PICRC Release Technical Report on Socioeconomic Study of PAN Sites in Ngatpang State

PICRC Release Technical Report on Socioeconomic Study of PAN Sites in Ngatpang StateThe PAN was established in 2003 to protect Palau‘s rich biodiversity and to build resiliency to the impacts of climate change. In 2015, baseline ecological studies were conducted in the PAN Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to assess their effectiveness. While understanding the effectiveness of the PAN on Palau’s ecosystems is critical, it is also necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the PAN through the public’s perspective. In order to gauge the communities’ perception of these protected areas, PICRC began conducting socioeconomic baseline surveys to complement the ecological studies done in the state PAN sites.

This month, PICRC released a new technical report titled “Socio-Economic Baseline Study in Ngatpang State. “The report highlights the Ngatpang community’s involvement in their designated PAN sites, their level of awareness and knowledge of the PAN and their overall perception of impacts from MPAs on their livelihoods.

PICRC researchers have completed surveying nine states and aim to complete baseline surveys for the remaining four states over the next two years. These studies provide valuable information that can assist policy makers in improving the PAN to better suit local communities and ensure success of the sites.

PICRC would like to offer thanks to all the volunteers and surveyors for their efforts on this study. More information on this report can be accessed through the PICRC website under Research Publications and Technical Reports. Please contact Ines Kintoki for further questions or comments.


Remengesau Pushes for Ocean Protection Playing Key Role On Fight Vs. Climate Change

President Tommy Remengesau is reiterating that ocean protections play a crucial role in fighting climate change.

Remengesau in his remarks during the United Nations’ annual international climate conference which kicked off this week in Bonn, Germany stated that climate change – and the greenhouse gas emissions that drive it- “is becoming increasingly destructive to marine ecosystems compounding the damage already caused by other human activities on land and at sea”.

Palau and smaller island nations are pushing to persuade climate change negotiators that protection for ocean life should go hand in hand with the national and international plans for combating the impacts of climate change.

“I would like to begin by thanking Fiji for continuing to highlight oceans as a critical issue and also to thank the sponsors, partners and organizations of this ocean day. The links between a healthy ocean, a safe climate, and the communities that depend on both must remain high on the international agenda.” Remengesau said during the COP23 Ocean Action Day on Saturday in Bonn.

Remengesau said that the leaders should listen to science and local fishermen who have been saying that there has been decline in fish stocks and biodiversity has been apparent for some time now.

“For the great majority of us who understand the practical and moral imperative to listen to what the scientists – and the fisherman – are telling us, we need to take immediate and decisive action to rescue and restore our ocean. And those in this room are taking action”. He stated
He also pushed that leaders at the global level must work together to establish, by 2020, an effectively managed and well-connected system of marine protected areas within and beyond areas of national jurisdiction, covering at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas worldwide.

Remengesau countries should increase ambition and protect at least 30% of marine areas by 2030 including designating marine protected areas, including reserves, beyond national; jurisdiction.
Palau is closing off 80% of its marine zone to an ocean sanctuary with 20 percent designated to domestic fishing zone.

“We need to go further, faster and together on climate action and on oceans. Progress will not come easy. But today – among friends and allies on Ocean Day – let us re-energize our efforts,” Remengesau stated.


PAN Fund Disburse Payment to Ngatpang State to Initiate Management of its Protected Areas

pan payment to ngatpang state
(Standing left - right) Kevin Chin Vice Chairman PAN Fund Board of Directors, Skeras Etpison Vice Speaker Ngatpang State Legislature, Jersey Iyar Governor Ngatpang State, Obichang Skebong PAN Office Program Coordinator, Regis Emesiochel PAN Fund General Manager, Mad ra Sikos Uchel Tmetuchel. (Seated left-right): Ridep Okada Techitong, Sechewas Ngirakesol Maidesil, Rekemesik Shallum Etpison, Rechiwang Demei Otobed.

On November 08, 2017, the Palau Protected Areas Network Fund, in collaboration with the Palau Protected Areas Network Office, disbursed a sum of $47,000 to Ngatpang State Government to initiate effective management of its designated protected areas. This amount represents the first tranche of funding that Ngatpang State will be receiving for fiscal year 2018 to support the recruitment of key personnel and to implement activities outlined in its 5-year management plan. Ngatpang State became a member of the Palau Protected Areas Network in July 2014. In August 2014, PAN Fund disbursed the initial $10,000 to initiate the development of its management plan. In January 2017, PAN Fund disbursed a sum of $50,000 as mobilization funds to establish office, hire a coordinator as well as to finalize its 5-year management plan. Ngatpang State joins the 13 PAN Member States to have successfully transition into regular PAN management funding.


Reporting of Quarterly State PAN Program and Budget Accountability
By River N. Thomas, PAN Office Intern

reporting of quarterly state pan program and budget accountability

On Thursday, August 17th, PAN Office under the Ministry of Resources, Environment, and Tourism teamed up with PAN Fund, a Non Governmental Organization, to host a two-day workshop that would ultimately provide capacity building skills to PAN staff. The event was just the first in a series of trainings and workshops aimed towards capacity building, which is an essential part of the PAN strategic plan. Capacity building is a PAN initiative aimed to make the entire network more structured and fully operational not only in terms of activities and programs but staff as well.

This workshop focused on training Network State coordinators and accountants/treasurers in a uniform standard practice to improve quarterly reporting of PAN funded projects. PAN Office with the assistance of PAN Fund worked to develop comprehensive report templates as well as various practices to introduce to workshop participants in an effort to streamline the reporting process. PAN quarterly reporting is a significant and essential task required by State PAN offices throughout the year. The initiative to improve this integral part of the Network can help the system become more efficient because timely reporting leads to timely disbursement of funds needed for state PAN programs and operations. State coordinators and accountants/treasurers were trained because both positions are crucial in the overall operation of State PAN programs as they both work to produce the reports.

Thirteen out of the fifteen PAN states sent representatives to the Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. Building to take part in the workshop. On the first day, 44 participants including staff from PAN Office and PAN fund were present and on the 2nd day, 41 participants continued to take part in the workshop. The workshop began with opening remarks by Kevin Chin,Vice Chairman of the PAN Fund Board of Directors, who spoke about the importance of understanding the different roles in PAN. After the morning sessions, guest speaker, governor of Ngeremlengui, Mary Francis Remengesau, gave her own personal perspective on how to run a State PAN program. The workshop not only discussed PAN’s vision but practical and essential skills necessary for comprehensive reporting. A very important session led by PAN Coordinator Obichang Skebong and Gen. Manager of PAN Fund Regis Emesiochel, discussed Budget Accountability in terms of a Financial Tracking Tool. The two-day workshop concluded with final remarks by Steven Victor, Director of TNC – Micronesia Program, who stressed the importance of timely reporting and joint collaboration from all PAN states as well as other NGOs.


Building Capacity in the Protected Areas Network (PAN)
Src: Palau International Coral Reeef Center (PICRC) 2017 Gratitude Report | July 14, 2017

The following article is from the 2017 Gratitude Report by the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC). Download the complete 2017 Gratitude Report

From the 7th to the 17th of February, the Palau International Coral Reef Center hosted a PAN Ecological Training Course for Koror State conservation officers and rangers. This was the largest PAN training course held by PICRC and was made possible because of the collaboration among Palau Community College (PCC), Protected Areas Network Office (PAN O) and Palau Coral Reef and Island Ecosystem (P-CoRIE) project.

PICRC researchers taught the course and covered techniques on surveying methods for the conservation officers and rangers to apply when monitoring Koror State PAN Sites. The participating rangers and officers earned certificates of completion after finishing 53 hours of training. During the course they gained the necessary skills to monitor MPA's, develop sampling designs, measure the effectiveness of MPA's, through ecological and socioeconomic surveys, and the skills to assess tourism impacts.

The Palau Protected Areas Network (PAN) was created through national law in 2003 to defend the country's biodiversity. Ensuring effective monitoring of these sites is essential for informed management of the sites. Aside from providing a reliable source of food and sustaining continuous economic growth, coral reefs act as a buffer to the shorelines protecting against storms and erosion. Monitoring and surveying MPA's will allow us to see how effective they are in reducing the impact of overfishing and enhancing resilience and productivity.


MCT Makes the First Funds Transfer from Palau’s MC Endowment Fund to the Palau PAN Fund

On January 31, 2017, the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) Board approved a resolution instructing its Investment Advisor, Raymond James, to disburse $435,362 to the Palau Protected Areas Network (PAN) Fund (www.palaupanfund.org). The Palau PAN Fund, per the agreement with MCT, will use the fund exclusively for (a) implementation of PAN protected areas management, sustainable development and work plans for PAN sites based on performance, impact/outcome and appropriate management costs for the continuing sustainable operation of the PAN Fund; (b) the undertaking of necessary research and educational activities substantially related to carrying out the purposes of RPPL No. 7-42; and (c) the performance of any of the functions that are necessary in order to carry out the purpose of RPPL 7-42 including the operation of the PAN Office. The amount withdrawn is based on a formula agreed to between the donors and the owners of the endowment in an Investment Policy Guidelines on the Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund (www.micronesiachallenge.org) and is designed to ensure the value of the Fund is maintained in perpetuity.

In 2006, MCT was selected by the Chief Executives of Micronesia to serve as the Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund financing mechanism and has been managing the MC Endowment Fund since its inception in 2008. The fund was initiated with a $1,000,000 grant from The Nature Conservancy and a $500,000 contribution from the Palau Government. Subsequently the Palau Government, through their Palau PAN Fund, and the Federated States of Micronesia and Marshall Islands governments started contributing their own national funds to the endowment to match other donor funds from The Nature Conservancy ($3M), Conservation International ($3M) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) – United Nations Environment Programme ($5M). Today the endowment fund stands at nearly $18.5M, with Palau owning approximately half of the fund, and with FSM and RMI owning approximately $5,000,000 and $4,000,000 respectively. A student group from Saipan, the Tanapag Middle School Micronesia Challenge Club, provided $1,000 from their own funds to launch the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands’ (CNMI) Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund in 2016. MCT continues to work with Guam and CNMI officials, as well as other international development partners, to launch their MC endowment funds as part of this joint regional initiative.

For the FSM and RMI to start to receive earnings from the MC Endowment Fund, they will need to put in place national policies and legislations that formally establish their protected areas networks, as well as the mechanisms for disbursement (i.e. the Palau PAN Fund). Both the FSM and RMI Governments are now working to put these program requirements in place so they can begin to drawdown on the funds to support the much-needed community based site work within their respective jurisdictions.


Kayangel and Ngarchelong Rangers Retreat
Src: Island Times | Friday, December 16, 2016

With the Northern Reef of Palau continuing to push for sustainable management of their fisheries, enforcement becomes a key focal area. The rangers of both Kayangel and Ngerchelong were engage in a 3-day retreat hosted by The Nature Conservancy.

The retreat was meant to enhance relationships between the rangers and partner agencies, gain a better understanding of the partner agencies role, respective States Marine Resources Management Regulations, the overall progress of the Northern Reef Fisheries Management Project and to build teamwork and improve communications.

PAN Conservation Officers TrainingPresentations by the partner agencies such as Palau International Coral Reef Center(PICRC), Division of Fish and Wildlife, Protected Area Network(PAN), and Palau Conservation Society(PCS) gave the rangers a better understanding of their knowledge.

Both Directors of Kayangel and Ngarchelong rangers agreed that retreat should be recurrent activity and that it is an excellent opportunity for their rangers to learn new things and sharpen their skills.

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