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Palau International Coral Reef Center-PICRC

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Palau International Coral Reef Center
2nd JCC

28 November, 2014

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2nd JCC Meeting highlights success of the P-CoRIE Project

The “Project for Sustainable Management of Coral Reefs and Island Ecosystems: Responding to the Threat of Climate Change”, also known as Palau Coral Reef and Island Ecosystem (P-CoRIE) Project, held its 2nd Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) Meeting on November 25th at Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC’s) Kedarm conference room.  This joint collaborative project among PICRC, Palau Community College (PCC) and The University of the Ryukyus (UoR) held its 2nd JCC to share the progress of the project after more than year and to address the projects’ activities for the upcoming years.  The overall goal of this meeting was to have the results of this project utilized for policy formulation and management of the coral reef and island ecosystems in Palau.

JCC members included PICRC, PCC, Protected Areas Network (PAN) Office, PAN Fund, Koror State Department of Conservation and Law Enforcement, Office of Environmental Response and Coordination (OERC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Palau Conservation Society (PCS), Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB), National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), Bureau of Marine Resources, National Weather Service, Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Palau Visitors Authority (PVA), Palau Automated Land and Resources Information System (PALARIS), JICA Palau Office and JICA Experts. PICRC Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Noah Idechong gave the welcoming remarks followed by a brief introduction of the project by the PCC President, Dr. Patrick U. Tellei.

Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PICRC, gave the overview and highlights of the P-CoRIE project so far.  For a big project like P-CoRIE, which deals with very precise and accurate measurements, many new equipment and materials needed to be purchased and shipped to Palau.  The project was able to successful mobilized, set up and obtained all the equipment and supplies needed for the various component of the project during the first year.  In additions to the mobilization phase, the project also made good progress in terms of the research project initiated in the first year, capacity building efforts and long-term investment in PICRC capacity.

As part of this project, a PICRC researcher is now attending UoR, getting his master in science degree.  Next year, the project will be sending a second PICRC researcher for the Master scholarship.  This is a long-term investment in PICRC and in Palau.  Very few Palauans have degrees in the science and even fewer have master degrees in science.  By the end of this project, we will have two.  The project also established and started running the DNA lab at PICRC.  The project is now in the process of combining the PICRC and PCC lab into one DNA lab.  This DNA lab supports biodiversity and connectivity research in Palau as well as a teaching lab for PCC students.  The research being conducted in the lab will help document and identify the great biodiversity in Palau and how the different areas in Palau are connected.

Under this project, PICRC, PCC and PAN office worked together to establish and conduct a course on ecological monitoring for PAN Conservation Officers, with certification from PCC.  The project is now working with the PAN Coordinators and the State Governors to identify their training needs and how best to meet those needs.  While the P-CoRIE project has a strong research program on coral reef ecology, climate change and biodiversity, it also has a strong socio-economic component.  Work has started on the socio-economic surveys on residence’s perceptions of tourists, while later surveys will focus on fisheries and other issues.

During the JCC meeting, detail progress reports of the project were presented by the Principal Investigators.  Progress reports, inputs and the upcoming activities of the project were also discussed. Based on the presentations during the JCC, it was clear that P-CoRIE has made great strides in the first year.  But the final success of the project will depend on how well the results can be used to help management efforts in Palau.  To the end, the JCC members committed to work in partnership to ensure that the results of the research will benefit management efforts in Palau.

The joint project was awarded the highly competitive grant from Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) for five years, worth about 3.4 million US dollars.  Supported by two Japanese government agencies, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), SATREPS is a Japanese government program that promotes international joint research targeting global issues.

This joint collaborative project fulfills PICRC’s efforts in sharing and collaborating with partners to provide necessary science to support effective management and sustainable use of coastal resources and conservation. For more information about PICRC’s research programs, visit www.picrc.org or “Like” PICRC on Facebook.

 

28 November, 2014

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Head of PICRC’s Research and Aquarium Department attends Workshop on Access and Benefit Sharing

From November 10 to 13, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) Research and Aquarium Department Head, Ms. Geraldine Rengiil, attended the 5th Sub-regional workshop on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) supported by Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with GIZ in Sydney Australia. Representatives from several countries in the South Pacific including Palau attended the workshop.

For centuries, societies across the globe have transferred and traded biological resources. In doing so, they have drawn from the indigenous knowledge related to using those resources. Today, industries such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, plant or animal breeding keep searching globally for genetic resources to develop or enhance their products. Yet, the gains and benefits arising from those transfers have hardly ever been shared with the communities of origin. Until recently, developing countries had no recourse to ensure that the use of their genetic resources and traditional knowledge would be recompensed.

The Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) principle of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) provides development opportunities in this regard. It aims at ensuring a fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. This means that, where genetic resources are used for scientific or commercial purposes, the country of origin is to be recompensed. Overall, the purpose of ABS is to:

• Generate benefits for poverty alleviation and nature conservation;

• Support capacity development by transferring technologies, knowledge and skills;

• Enhance social development;

• Ensure accountability and good governance at all levels.

Building on outcomes of previous ABS workshops, the specific focus of this workshop was on marine bio-prospecting in the context of the Nagoya Protocol (NP). The Nagoya Protocol, adopted in October 2010 under the auspices of the CBD, is a milestone representing for its Parties an internationally agreed and binding framework for access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilization. It enhances legal certainty and transparency for users and providers, by:

• Creating predictable conditions for accessing genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with them;

• Promoting adequate benefit-sharing where genetic resources leave the territory of the provider country and associated traditional knowledge is being utilized;

• Supporting mechanisms to monitor and ensure stakeholders’ compliance with mutually agreed terms and national ABS regulatory frameworks.

Several presentations from individuals included presentation on (1) an overview of research programs from PICRC and Palau’s compliancy with ABS and the Nagoya Protocol ratification by Geraldine Rengiil, (2) stakeholder perspectives in coastal areas by Alifereti Tawake, Indo-Pacific LMMA Network, (3)  Reality in Bio-prospecting business, Marine, Rainforest and Highland Satoshi Nimura, of Nimura Genetic Solutions (NGS), (4) Melanesian Experiences in Marine Drug Discovery at the University of the South Pacific by Klaus Feussner from the University of the South Pacific (USP), and (5) Deep Sea Environments and Seafloor Mining: An ABS relevant issue by Alison Swaddling of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

It was important for Palau to be represented in this workshop as it moves toward becoming ABS and NP compliant, so that the people of Palau can benefit from the utilization of its genetic resources. “Palau is committed to the ABS and NP because it protects the people of Palau and ensures that we get the benefits from the use of our resources” according to Minster Sengebau, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism. Minister Sengebau further states “that his Ministry will work with PICRC and other partners to develop a national policy for ABS and Nagoya Protocol and to ensure all the structures and processes are in place to implement the policy.”

Attending this workshop allowed Ms. Rengiil to gather information from various countries that have ratified the Nagoya Protocol including lessons shared from countries still in the process of getting ratification and developing their ABS regulations and networking with experts. PICRC is committed to developing local capacity to effectively manage Palau’s coral reefs and coastal ecosystems. For more information about PICRC’s research programs, visit www.picrc.org or “like” PICRC on Facebook.

 

 

28 November, 2014

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19 November, 2014

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PICRC Releases 3 New Reports on Palau’s MPAs

On October 28th, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) completed three different reports on Baseline Assessments of the Ebiil, Ngeruangel and Ngerumekaol Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) located in the States of Ngarchelong, Kayangel and Koror. Lead Authors of the reports are: 1. Researcher Lincoln Rehm, Ebiil Conservation Area Baseline Assessment, 2. Researcher Shirley Koshiba, Baseline Assessment of Ngeruangel Marine Reserve and 3. Researcher Marine Gouezo, Baseline Assessment of Ngerumekaol Spawning Area.

Since the beginning of this year, PICRC research team conducted assessment at all MPAs around Palau to get baseline measurements on fish abundance and biomass, benthic cover, coral recruits and invertebrates’ density at sites included the fore reef, reef crest, back reef and channel areas. PICRC Research team along with state conservation officers surveyed randomly selected sites that included thirty-six sites in Ebiil, forty-two sites in Ngeruangel and twenty-ones sites in Ngerumekaol Spawning Areas.

Results from these three surveys are different but overall, they show that coral reef ecosystems are in relatively good state. Results at Ebiil MPA demonstrated a significantly higher commercial fish biomass in the channel habitat compared to all other major habitats. Ngeruangel MPA had a higher fish biomass in the back-reef and fore-reef compared to the lagoon. Coral cover and the abundance of targeted invertebrates in Ngeruangel were low which  is probably due to the occurrence of the recent typhoons. The fore reef had a significantly high density coral recruits compared to the other habitats, which is a good sign of reef recovery after large-scale disturbances. For Ngerumekaol Spawning Area, findings demonstrated a high abundance of parrotfish which is an important fish family for reef resilience. In addition the coral cover was high with reaching more than 55% coverage especially in the channel habitat.

These assessments are needed as they provide us with information on the effectiveness of Palau’s MPAs. The results from these assessments and the comparisons with future surveys at the same sites will help managers to make decisions to better protect the marine environment of Palau and reach the goal of 30% of efficient MPAs by 2020 set by the Micronesia Challenge. This comprehensive survey by PICRC supports its mission to guide efforts supporting coral reef stewardship through research and its applications for the people of Palau, Micronesia, and the world.

Copies of the reports have been distributed to the state governors of Ngarchelong, Kayangel and Koror and they are also available at PICRC library. A full list of all PICRC publications is available at the PICRC research library and website (www.picrc.org).  For copies of the reports or any other PICRC publications, please call Ines Kintoki at 488-6950 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .