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past news & events

Northern Reef Committee Proposes Stricter Measures
Src: Island Times | Friday, February 26, 2016

The Northern Reef planning committee finalizes proposal that calls for stricter measures in the Northern Reef Area.

It has been six months since the governors of Ngarchelong and Kayangel  signed their Northern Reef Fisheries Management Act of 2015 into laws. The act put a 3 year ban on tiau, mokas, temekai, meteungerel temekai, and mandated the governors to establish rules and regulations that will:

The committee is composed of representatives from both Kayangel and Ngarchelong.
“The important thing is that we don’t restrain the local citizens’ ability to make a living to support his or her family, it is necessary that we work together to find other alternative livelihood that the local man or woman can fall on in order to meet their daily obligations”, says one of the States’ Legislators.

The proposed rules and regulations were developed with those words in mind.

The committee reiterates that what they are doing is for the greater good of both states and believes that the proposed rules and regulations are important because they provide a way to secure and protect the northern Reef states marine resources for the betterment of their citizens today and the future generations to come.

After months of discussions, and conducting a number of community meetings in the states of Ngarchelong and Kayangel, the committee presented their recommendation that incorporates comments to the respective leaders of Ngarchelong and Kayangel.

Over 50,000 Clam Seedlings Planted in First Year GCSSPF
Src: Island Times | Friday, February 26, 2016

On Thursday, January 28, 2016, the Palau Bureau of Marine Resources replanted the initial 300 number of at least six hundred promised by BMR in response to a response made by the Governor of Peleliu to restock Peleliu’s Teluleu Conservation Area.

According to the executed MOU between the BMR and the Governor, ‘the Peleliu State Government and the Peleliu State Protected Areas Network  and Conservation Office, hereafter called PPANCO, will ensure its safekeeping and protection from any threats that may interrupt or disturb the growth  of the said clams’. “Any threats definitely includes poaching activity”, BMR Acting Director Leon E. Remengesau was careful to remind.

“We are already implementing the Giant Clam seed Sustainability Project Fund. In the first year of the GCSSP Fund, BMR has planted close to fifty thousand seedlings on the several new clam farms created with the money BMR is collecting for the fund. We also have planted over one thousand young adult cultured clams in three state conservation areas”, Mr. Remengesau revealed.
Currently, House Bill No. 9-202-12, HD1 which seeks to mandate MRNET to replenish clam population in PAN and increase reporting of clam sustainability project, has passed 1st reading in the Senate.

According to Bureau of Marine Resources, it is actively engaging state communities that are sincere and have the capability to provide the much needed security that can prevent human predators and other non-supportive elements from undermining the restocking effort.
According to BMR Director, the national clam planting program’s restocking effort will eventually be based on the suitability and the availability of conservation rangers in the state to provide security over the transplanted clams.

“Conservation in Palau is beautifully falling into place”, says the BMR Director. “The PAN Network has created these wonderful and protected sites that we can repopulate the giant clam in. BMR supplies the giant clams and the state governments provide the state rangers, whose salaries are paid from the PAN, to guard against poaching. Restocking in the PAN sites can be successful if the State Rangers can do a good job. Our communities will always have unscrupulous and non-supportive opportunists and enforcement must be real and serious”, he added.

Earlier, Governor Shmull had written to the Bureau for a number of grown giant clams to restock the state’s conservation area which is directly across from the Peleliu Dock. BMR support the Southern State vision to repopulate the species  in their waters and along the way, produce an ample number of giant clams to be enjoyed by snorkeling visitors, which would be a fine example of eco-tourism. To this end, and to implement the very purpose of the Giant Clam Seed Sustainability Project Fund (GCSSPF), the young adult clams were purchased from local clam farmer and transplanted in the Teluleu marine protected area.

“Before the next batches of clams are brought there, BMR and its partner PPANCO will conduct a status survey to determine the effectiveness of the security blanket provided and called for in the MOU. I have every confidence that the number of clams will still be there and we will be able to increase that number to fulfill the meaningful wishes of the state government and the PPANCO Rangers”, concluded Acting Director Remengesau.

PICRC and Partners Offer Specialized Training for Airai Conservation Officers

On February 8, 2016, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) hosted the opening ceremony of the Palau Protected Areas Network (PAN) Conservation Officer Training course for Airai State Rangers.

Opening remarks were made by PICRC’s Dr. Yimnang Golbuu with special remarks from Mr. Nobuaki Matsui, Director of Japan International Collaboration Agency (JICA), Palau Office, and the Honorable Governor Tmewang Rengulbai. This training will also include guest speakers who will share their special role in conservation such as the PAN Program Manager, Mr. King Sam as well as Palau Conservation Society’s (PCS) Conservation and Protected Areas Manager, Ms. Lolita Gibbons-Decherong.

This training is being led by the research team at PICRC with inputs and guidance by PAN Office, PCA, and Palau Community College (PCC). The course will emphasize specific needs and the importance of the sea grass beds of Medal Ngediull as well as provide techniques on surveying methods suitable for Medal Ngeduill habitat. By redirecting the focus of the training to a specific topic, the rangers will be more comfortable and specialized for the needs of Airai State.

Over the next week and a half from February 8th to the 17th, Airai State Rangers will be learning Marine Protected Area (MPA) monitoring protocols which are geared specifically to the needs of Airai’s MPA, Medal Ngediull. Through there has been other trainings in the past, this is the first time PICRC has provided specialized training to al rangers of a specific state. The procedures taught are the same methods PICRC uses to survey and will allow Airai State to continuously monitor Medal Ngediull. It is hoped that this training course and the valuable skills learned from this training will be utilized by the rangers and will inspire other states and individuals to do the same.

Dr. Golbuu at the Our Ocean Conference

Dr. Yimnang GolbuuDr. Yimnang Golbuu, CEO of the Palau International Coral Reef Center, has just been elected as Vice President of the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS), the largest professional organization for coral reef researchers and managers. The Society has over 600 members from 70 nations, and publishes the scientific journal Coral Reefs, which is one of the primary sources for recent research reports on coral reef ecosystems. Dr. Golbuu’s election to this important position is a reflection of Palau International Coral Reef Center’s (PICRC) international recognition as a world-class coral reef research center. “Yimnang’s election to this prestigious post is no surprise to me,” said Dr. Bob Richmond, the past President of the Society who nominated him. “Yimnang is not only a highly productive and respected scientist, but he is also an excellent communicator who brings a very important cultural perspective to the field of coral reef research and can bridge the best of traditional knowledge with modern science.” “At a time when coral reefs are in decline worldwide, Yim’s knowledge and leadership skills will be of great value to the ISRS goals of using science to support coral reef sustainability as a legacy for the future.”

“Palau not only possesses some of the world’s most diverse and exquisite coral reef ecosystems,” says Richmond, “but through the efforts of President Remengesau, Minister Sengebau and past OEK Speaker Noah Idechong, Palau is recognized as a world leader in coral reef and marine resource stewardship.”

Our Ocean Conference

Dr. Golbuu is the first Pacific Islander to hold such a high leadership position for ISRS, and brings a valuable set of perspectives, experiences and knowledge to bear on the future direction of the Society as its members strive to put their science to work in preserving coral reefs and the lives of those who depend on them. He will also play an important role in the organization of the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium, a gathering of over 2,500 coral reef scientists and managers to be held in Hawaii in June 2016, in which Palau will be featured through the leadership and participation of President Remengesau for a planned regional leaders summit.

PAN Conservation Officers Training Begins

PAN Conservation Officers TrainingOn Monday August 1, 2014 Palau international Coral reef Center (PICRC) hosted a brief opening ceremony of Palau Protected Network (PAN) Conservation Training at the Kedarm Conference Room. The ceremony was opened by the PICRC CEO Dr. YimnangGolbuu, followed by the Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, Honorable UmiichSengebau, 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, TmewangRengulbai 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.

After the ceremony, the PAN Conservation training began at the PICRC Student Lab, PICRC Researchers, Marine Gouezo, Lincoln Rehm and ShirelyKoshiba 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, sea grass; and managing and conserving our marine resources.T

he 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.

Palau commits $1.4 million for invasive species projects
Src: Island Times | Tuesday, August 5, 2014

President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. said that Palau is committing a sum total of $1.4 million of its GEF6 Biodiversity allocation for three Invasive Species projects.

Remengesau made this announcement during the Invasive Species Side-Event held last July 28 at the Palasia Hotel. Remengesau explained that the $1.4 million will be allocated to three projects namely $500,000 will go towards the implementation of Palau’s regional Biosecurity Plan; $500,000 will go towards the integration of the Invasive Species program into Palau’s Protected Areas Management System; and $400,000 will go towards targeted and practical eradication projects.

“Invasive Species are widely acknowledged as one of the worst threats to biodiversity in our islands- All of our Islands. But they are much more than just a subcategory of Biodiversity: Other than climate Change, no other issue has greater potential to directly impact our economies, our precious natural heritage, our food security and our ecosystem resilience than do invasive species,” Remengesau said.

He also acknowledges the efforts of Lord Tu’ivakano from Tonga, who is helping to lead the fight against invasive species in the Pacific Region. Tonga has committed $1.5 million in the fight against invasive species.

“Each of our countries has tremendous opportunity to engage this enemy now, at every level. That is why my esteemed colleague, Lord Tu’ivakano, and I are issuing this Call to Action on Invasive Species. It is our hope that otherPacific Islands will join us in this call. It is our belief that we cannot afford not to make commitment –NOW-for the future of our respective islands. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This saying is especially true in regards to Invasive Species. The most effective means of avoiding the costly impacts of Invasive Species on our economy and our environment is to prevent infestations from ever occurring in the first place,” Remengesau added.

Remengesau stressed that Palau and the other Pacific Countries are very fortunate as the region has done a lot of homework to pave the way to this and other commitments. He said that the Pacific has regional bodies, like SPREP and SPC, the Pacific Invasive Learning Network, the Pacific Invasive Partnership, the Micronesia Regional Invasive Species Council.

“With our continental Pacific partners, have been developed and that possess great knowledge and expertise about controlling and eradicating the Invasive that currently plague us and we have each other. We have our long history of working together in regional and sub-regional partnership to address a common need or to advance a common cause. And we have our strong and enduring relationship with our continental allies and development partner to help leverage our efforts and commitments. Not all countries are in the same place, but we do have similar issues, and we can all accomplish more by working together,” he explained.

During the 45th Pacific Island Forum, leaders from the Small Island States (SIS) recalled their decisions from the 2013 Forum in Majuro, acknowledging the importance of effectively dealing with invasive species through integrated action and effective partnership to reduce the threats to Pacific economies, communities and environments, and to enhance climate change adaptation and sustainable development efforts.

Leaders acknowledged the progress made by SPREP andSPC in formalizing theestablishment of the Invasive Species Advisory Group, under the auspices of the Heads of CROP agencies. Leaders further acknowledged and welcomed the contribution of the Pacific Invasive Partnership through preparation of a report on the state of invasive species management in the forum region.
Leaders welcomed the Pacific Commitment to combat invasive species noting announcements by some of the Forum members toward this commitment and called upon development partners and donor community to support the Pacific Commitment to strengthen efforts to prevent, control and eradicate invasive species in Forum Countries.

On the other hand, Remengesau stated the all the pieces are in place to accomplish great things and what is needed now is to resource the organizations and initiatives adequately.

“Let us take the necessary steps strengthen our regional capacity to fight invasive species through a stronger PIF commitment, bolstered by stronger cooperative agenda and Advisory Groups, supported by our existing CROP Agencies. Let us reflect these commitments in our PIF outcomes and then take these commitments forward to the SIDS Conference in Samoa and to the United Nations General Assembly in September,” Remengesau said.

CI completes a $3 Million investment focused on safeguarding the Pacific Ocean
Src: Island Times | Friday, August 1, 2014

The pledge to the Micronesian Challenge, which supports urgent conservation efforts of natural resources crucial to Pacific traditions, cultures and livelihoods, was reached ahead of the 2018 schedule.

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 towards its endowment to sustainably finance the Micronesia Challenge (MC).

Established in 2006, the Micronesia Challenge aims to sustain the biodiversity of Micronesia in order to ensure a healthy future for its people, protect its unique island cultures and sustain the livelihoods for its island communities. The overall goal of the Challenge is to effectively conserve at least 30 percent of the near-shore marine resources and 20 percent of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.

Greg Stone, CI Chief Scientist and Executive Vice President of The Betty and Gordon More 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.

Environmental threats such as deforestation, unsustainable fishing practices, invasive species and climate change have degraded the natural resources of Micronesia. A vast Pacific region comprised of over 2,000 islands with an ocean area over twice the size of India (6.7 million square kilometres), the Challenge represents more than 20 percent of the Pacific Island region and 5 percent of the largest ocean in the world.

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.”
Micronesia contains some of the richest and diverse marine and terrestrial resources found anywhere on earth. This natural capital sustains the livelihoods for nearly 500,000 locals, who are traditional stewards of their lands and waters. The Challenge protects more than 1,000 species of reef fish, 85 bird species, and 1,400 kinds of plants. It also safeguards more than 480 coral species- 60 percent of all known species of coral.

The annual benefits from coral reefs to the Pacific, in terms of fisheries, tourism, coastal protection and biodiversity, has been estimated by the Micronesia Challenge at US$2 billion, and approximately US$800 million worth of benefits annually may be distributed across Micronesia.

19 Filipino Fishermen Rescued
Src: Island Times | Friday, August 1, 2014

Some 19 fishermen from the Philippines were rescued off Sonsorol Island after drifting at sea for more than three weeks.

Sonsorol Governor Jacob Yangilmau told Island Times that he and a group of Sonsorol residents and government staff were on their way to Sonsorol on July 10, 2014 when they chanced upon the fishermen.

Yangilmau was travelling with some Sonsorol leaders and residents together with staff from the Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB) and Division of Marine Law to look into and assess the damage wrought by a giant barge that earlier ran aground on the island of Sonsorol.
“We were travelling by boat when several people from the Filipino boat came over us in a skiff (small boat) to ask for our assistance,” he recounted.

Yangilmau said that there were a total of 19 fishermen aboard the boat. Yangilmau said that the boat the Filipinos were riding off was a 70-footer motorized banca.

“The fishermen told us that their boat drifted after it suffered from engine problem. According to them, seawater contaminated the engine causing for the engine to break down,” the Governor stated. Yangilmau said that they gave coconuts and other food to the fishermen and towed their boat to a safer area on the eastern side of the reef in the island.

Yangilmau said that the fishermen were down to two weeks supply of food and water when they were found. “They told us that they were drifting at sea for more than three weeks after their banca developed engine problem,” the Governor disclosed. The Governor also said that the health and medical needs of the fishermen while they were stranded in Sonsorol were also taken care of.
He said that they later learned that the fishermen were based in General Santos City in the southern part of the Philippines. The fishermen were reportedly working for a fishing company owned by Jake Lu. Lu is also the President of the Fresh Frozen Tuna Association.

The Governor said they contacted the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and other concerned agencies on the plight of the fishermen. Yangilmau said that the fishermen stayed in Sonsorol until last week when another boat was dispatched from the Philippines to bring them back home.

He said that the return of the fishermen was delayed by bad weather.

“When the weather cleared, another boat from the Philippines came to Sonsorol to bring back the fishermen. The same boat towed away the stranded boat which needs to be overhauled because of engine damage it has sustained,” Yangilmau informed.

Sonsorol Island is one of the islands that comprise Sonsorol State. Sonsorol State, which is part of the Palau’s southwest islands, is located 400 miles east of the southeastern tip of the Philippines.

US Forestry, Palau Forestry initiate permanent forest dynamics plot in Ngardok Nature Reserve

Will connect Ngardok Reserve to a global network of plots linked by the Smithsonian Institute

climbingBlisang, Melekeok State: On May 3rd Emerick Kintaro and Svetlena Kadoi from Ngardok Nature Reserve (NNR), and Larry Mamis and Omekrael Sadang from Palau Forestry flew to Hawaii for a month long training in monitoring forest growth in permanent plot systems in Hilo Hawaii. The plot system is monitored every 5 years for tree growth. After the successful training a team from US Forestry in Hawaii, Amanda Uolowo, Craig Costion, and Julian Dendy have arrived to initiate two plots in treePalau. After a site survey at Ngardok, the team has received permission from the Governor of Melekeok State and NNR management to create 1 plot in the Reserve. The plot and its measurements will allow scientists and researchers to access baseline data of forest conditions in Ngardok. It is believed that by joining this permanent plot system; more opportunities for terrestrial research will become available to PAN sites in Palau. Beyond the scientific benefits, the plot system will be used to educate students that visit the reserve on how to take measurements, monitor forest health, and become citizen scientists. The site at Ngardok Nature Reserve will be utilized to train other state conservation officers on monitoring forest health and growth over time. The Belau National Museum will also contribute to the project by housingand maintaining a reference collection of voucher specimens for all the species that occur in the plot in the Belau National Museum Herbarium. Currently a team from US Forestry, Palau Forestry, and all available staff from Ngardok are working on completing the 1-hectare (100m by 100m) plot and obtaining a species count of that plot. Completion of the plot is expected by early September.


Ngardok Nature Reserve initiates Tri-State El Nino preparedness exercises and education in Melekeok State

Youth from Ngiwal, Melekeok, and Airai joined together on June 20 to prepare for El Nino

Blisang, Melekeok State: On June 20th youth from Ngiwal, Airai, and Melekeok gathered in front of the state office to get training on how to prepare for El Nino and the predicted drought that will soon hit Palau. Coordinating the event were PAN site coordinators from each respective state. Clarence Polloi from Airai, Lorraine Kloulubak from Ngiwal, and Kevin Mesebeluu from Melekeok, and with Mark Defly from the US Embassy NRCS as the facilitator for the exercises. The youth were first taken to a traditional watering hole in Ngermelech hamlet where they were shown what can happen if a water source is not protected from run-off. The traditional watering hole had been filled up with dirt and large trees had taken root. They were taught how storm run-off or “baoch” is the result of heavy rains moving incredibly fast over pavement and roads, causing heavy erosion and sedimentation into the traditional water sources and into the reef. The youth learned that when there is tall grass, plants, and natural barriers like fallen trees or “kaud”, the “baoch” is slowed down and results in less erosion and sedimentation. The important lesson they learned was that the wetland around the water sources and “mesei” act as a sponge, to hold and retain water and is more resilient to drought conditions. The second water source the youth visited was “Itelbang” in Ukaeb hamlet. During the 97 – 98 drought this water source continued to produce water and was utilized by the local community. The youth were instructed on how to maintain such water sources in the traditional way mixed with modern engineering tips. They were encouraged to return home after the training and survey their own state’s water sources; after which the same youth’s will convene and assist in the maintenance of those water sources. The final activity was a visit to the Melekeok Dam. Ngardok staff prepared the site and secured the tools the youth would use to demo erosion control practices. The area at the dam has a run-off point that could possibly cause sedimentation in the intake pool. The youth strategically planted 469 “Keskus” with 4 inches of gap in between and laid out logs to create a “kaud” to slow the "baoch”.  It is a traditional way to prevent sedimentation and erosion that is being utilized by Anne Singeo of the Ebiil Society and the “Mechas ra Dengitech” who are replanting vast areas of bare savannah in Ngarchelong. The PAN coordinators wish to thank Mark Defly, Governor Ellender Ngirameketii, Governor Tmewang Rengulbai, and Governor Aloisius Tellei for their continued support for their states PAN activities.

Here is a list of the participants:

Airai State Ngiwal State US Embassy NRCS
Clarence Polloi
Tekau Teriong
Artingal Polloi
Sibong Watanabe
Kldyl Ngiralmau
Deurreng Michelle John
John Belt
Omu Jaylen Basilius
Loretta LeeRoy
Susan Mereb
Verlyne N. Meresbang
Etiterngel Keptot
Fernando Ngirakesau
Ismael Rongel
Mark Delfy
Melekeok State    
Travis Boisek
Branson Eungel
Kishea Liep
Leilua Gardner
Kyomi Sumang
Rechuldak Stephanus
Kevin Mesebeluu
Svetlena Kadoi
Brian Eungel
Eric Mongami
Emerick Kintaro
Anfion Ridep
Lomalinda Gabriel
Ur Elbelau
Jovelly Sabo
Olbangel Kintaro
Allen Rechelbang

El Nino Efforts

El Nino Efforts

El Nino Efforts

Palau Iinks MOU With CIF

Palau recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Conservation International Foundation (CIF) regarding collaboration on the Micronesia Challenge and the Pacific Oceanscape.

MOUPresident Remengesau signed on behalf of the Palau Government, while CIF Director Susan Taei inked her signature on behalf of the Foundation. In 2006, the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and the US territory of Guam announced their “Micronesia Challenge” as a commitment to protect 30 percent of their near-shore and coastal marine environment and 20 percent of their forests by 2020.

Palau has committed itself to the Micronesia Challenge through its existing national protected area network including the establishment of an appropriate number of new protected areas to adequately fill the gaps in the existing network. Palau has also endorsed the framework for the Pacific Oceanscape, at the 39th Pacific Islands Leaders Forum.

CIF is a non-governmental organization that focuses on building a strong foundation of science, partnership, and field demonstration to empower societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global diversity, for the well-being of humanity.

The organization sees the endorsement of the Pacific Oceanscape Framework by the Pacific Islands Forum, in September 2010, as an opportunity to advance oceanic and island conservation regionally and nationally and provide a global model for sustainable development.

CIF signed the MOU with Palau with the wish to provide technical support to assist efforts of the Government of Palau to meet its goals under the Micronesia Challenge and its commitment to the Pacific Oceanscape, particularly in the development of a network of protected areas.

Under the MOU, CI agrees to pay to Palau’s Micronesia Challenge Trust Endowment Fund managed by the Micronesian Conservation Trust (MCT) an amount equal to $1 million, under an appropriate agreement with the MCT by June 30, 2014.

To trigger this CIF payment Palau undertakes to provide: 1) rate of CIF: Palau funding of 1:2;2) A report on the status, progress, funding and expenditure as of March 2014 for Palau’s Micronesia Challenge commitment. This will include a Palau protected area network (PAN) update that gives site listings, area covered, and key habitat/species protection in relation to Palau’s Micronesia Challenge targets and any issues arising in that regard. The first such report will be considered the baseline report for Palau’s PAN; 3) following the payment, not exceeding $1 million, Palau commits to providing an annual Palau PAN report to CIF no later than December 31 for each year, until December 31, 2020. The annual Palau PAN reports will cover the status, progress, funding, and expenditure for Palau’s Micronesia Challenge commitment. This will include a Palau protected area network (PAN) update that gives site listings, area covered, the habitat/species protection in relation to Palau’s Micronesia Challenge targets and any issue arising in that regard.

The parties agree that funds provided by CIF to Palau’s component of the Micronesia Challenge Trust Endowment Fund will be used to capitalize a permanent endowment, the interest from which will support the establishment and management of Palau’s PAN, to meet its Micronesia Challenge goal of protecting 30 percent of its near-shore and coastal marine environment and 20 percent of its forests by 2020.

Taiwanese Fishing Vessel Runs Aground Conservation Area

A  Taiwanese fishing boat has run aground at a conservation area in Koror State. The F/V Kuorong, which was heading to the Solomon Islands, hit a reef and ran aground in the Ngederak Reef Conservation Area late afternoon of Monday, June 9, 2014. According to Earnest Ongidobel, Chief Administrative Officer of the Koror State Government, Koror State Rangers were notified and responded to the site of the grounding around 4:00 PM of June 9. “The boat was on its way out of Palau when it ran aground in the conservation area”, He disclosed. Ongidobel informed that the boat arrived in Palau last week and was on its way to the Solomon Islands when the accident happened. The boat is owned by the Palau International Traders Inc., (PITI), a Taiwanese fishing company operating in Palau. The number of crew or displacement of the vessel was not disclosed. Though, it was believed to be of the same size as the other Taiwanese fishing vessels operating in the waters of this island nation. According to other sources, the boat was being guided through the area by another boat when it tried to overtake the guide boat and hit a reef in the area. The same sources contended that the Taiwanese skipper of the boat was here for the first time and was unfamiliar with the area. The boat was lightened of its load of bait fish, fuel, and other items and was later raised and towed the Malakal Port where it is temporarily anchored pending an investigation and settlement of the matter. The raising of the ship was done in a fast and efficient way. “There was no spillage of fuel”. A person with knowledge of the salvage and towing operation noted. It was noted that it took several days or months to raise vessels that were involved in previous grounding incidents. A team comprising of Koror Rangers and personnel and experts from the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) and the Environmental Protection Board (EQPB) later went to the area to assess the damage. The extent of the damage on the reef has not yet been divulged. EQPB Executive Director Roxxane Blesam said that they are investigating the incident and will soon release their findings and report on the matter. Several cases of ship groundings have occurred in the areas around Koror in the past years. These include Ye-Seung 1, a fishing vessel owned by the Ye-Seung Marine Ltd. Which ran aground in Ikeldules Reef on November 2012. Another fishing vessel owned by Ye-Seung, which is a Korean company, ran aground in a different area a few months later. The owner of the ships later paid a fine to the EQPB.

Palau International Coral Reef Center and Palau Community College Sign MCA on Collaborative Ecological Monitoring Certification Program

SigningPICRC and PCC sign a Memorandum of Cooperation Agreement (MOCA) to develop and implement a collaborative ecological monitoring certification program at PCC to strengthen partnerships, build capacity, and support conservation mainly on law enforcement.The signing was held at PCC Assembly Hall on Tuesday, June10, 2014by Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PICRC, andDr. 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 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 willalso provide the ecological background for conservation work.  The courses will be offered through the PCC Continuing Education (CE) and, while it is intended Palau’s PAN conservation officers, interested community members may participate.

PICRC conducted a baseline survey at Ngeruangel MPA

NgeruangelFrom May 12-16, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) Research Team, which included Marine Gouezo, Shirley Koshiba, Lincoln Rehm, Geory Mereb, Dawnette Olsudong, and Jay Oruetamor conducted surveys at Ngeruangel MPA for one week. Mr. Lazarus Meyar, Conservation Officer from Kayangel State, joined the PICRC research team to conduct the surveys.

Underwater surveys, both snorkeling and using SCUBA, were undertaken to gain information on the density and biomass of commercially important fish species, protected fish species and invertebrates as well as benthic cover including coral recruits (baby corals) density. In one week, PICRC was able to survey forty-two sites in three different habitats. The habitats surveys were forereef, back reef and lagoon. Since the sites were selected randomly in each habitat, the results could be extrapolated to give us good information on the status of resources inside Ngeruangel MPA.

PICRC research team is planning on conducting baseline assessment surveys of all coral reef MPA’s across Palau. These monitoring surveys are needed to gain a better understanding on the effects of protection through time. It also helps conservation managers of Palau Protected Areas Network (PAN) to make the best decisions.

The information gained from these surveys is also communicated to the local communities to inform them about the protection’s effect on the marine ecosystems and the efforts required to improve their resilience. This survey fulfills PICRC’s efforts in collaborating with partners and other organizations to provide necessary science to support effective management and sustainable use of coastal resources and conservation.

Plea Hearing for Vietnamese Fishermen Set

A Plea Hearing/Status Conference will be held for the eight Vietnamese who were recently apprehended by Palau authorities while allegedly fishing without permits in a protected area off Kayangel State.

An Order handed down by Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong, who is presiding over the trial, said that the counsels for both the fishermen and the Republic have agreed to the date of the Plea Hearing/Status Conference. The Order was dated March 26, 2014.

The Republic is represented by Assistant Attorney General Joshua Kolsrud, while defense counsel is Chief Public Defender Lalii Chin-Sakuma.

The eight Vietnamese, namely: Nguyen Hung, Nguyen Rin, Bui Tam Den, and Bui Tan Loc, Vo Van Dung, Le Quy Nam, Vo Cong, and Vo Ngoc, pled not guilty to the charges filed against them during the first appearance hearings on March 24 and 25.

The eight were charged with with 11 crimes including: Aiding and Abetting Unlawful Entry; Aiding and Abetting Illegal Fishing Without a Permit; Aiding and Abetting Attempted Illegal Fishing Without a Permit; Conspiracy to Commit Illegal Fishing Without a Permit; Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Acts; Aiding and Abetting Unlawful Acts; Attempted Unlawful Acts; Aiding and Abetting Attempted Unlawful Acts; and two counts of Grand Larceny.

The plea hearing will be held at Courtroom 101 at the Palau Supreme Court on Friday, April 4, 2014, starting 1:30 PM.

The eight were caught by Kayangel State Rangers on the morning of March 19, 2014 poaching giant clams and sea cucumbers off Ngeruangel, Kayangel, which is a conservation area. The Vietnamese were fishing with dive gear and a small vessel overseen by a larger “mother boat”. The “mother boat” fled the scene as the Kayangel Rangers approached.
The defendants are currently housed  at the Catholic Church in Koror.

Courtesy of Island Times

PAN Technical Committee Meeting

On April 16, 2014, Protected Area Network (PAN) technical committee members met to review a nomination for Ngatpang State PAN site. Ngatpang State is the one of remaining three States in Palau that doens't have existing site in the protected area network. The two other states are Angaur and Sonsorol.

The PAN technical committee is an advisory body that will review a nomination of each state PAN site and will provide its recommendation to the Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism.

The body consist of representatives from PICRC, PCS, BLS, BAC, EQPB, BMR, and BOA, including individual capacity as experts in their field, including Alan Olsen, Madelsar Ngiraingas and Steven Victor.

Mesekiu Slaughtered in Ngiwal

An investigation is on-going of an alleged slaughtering of a Mesekiu (Dugong) with meat distributed to several people in Ngiwal. The slaughter of the dugong is said to have taken place three weeks ago with national and state law conservation and law enforcement authorities still looking into the report. According to police and Ngiwal State sources, the dugong or Mesekiu in Palauan, was still juvenile and was caught in Ngemai Reef in Ngiwal State. Sources say that the person under suspicion is employed by the Ngiwal State Government. Dugongs are highly protected species with laws in place strictly prohibiting taking because of their dwindling numbers.