NOAA Award to Support Community Efforts to Protect Pacific Coral Reefs

January 27, 2010

NOAA awarded the University of Hawaii at Manoa Kewalo Marine Laboratory a $199,996 grant to address the effects of land-based sources of pollution on coral reefs in the Pacific. The money will fund the first year of a five-year, $1 million dollar project.

Noah Idechong, current Speaker of the Palau National Congress, discusses environmental impacts of poor land use practices at a village community meeting in Aimeliik State.

Noah Idechong, current Speaker of the Palau National Congress, discusses environmental impacts of poor land use practices at a village community meeting in Aimeliik State.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

With this grant, researchers will help resource managers, policy makers and community leaders develop and implement strategies to prevent or reverse coral reef degradation on the Pacific Island nations of Palau, Pohnpei, Guam and Yap. The grant will facilitate information exchange among indigenous fishers, resource managers, researchers and students in an effort to learn from previous work and to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into management decisions.

“This new grant will allow us to continue addressing problems resulting from poor land-use practices in the past,” said Noah Idechong, speaker of the Palau National Congress and a key member of the project’s advisory group. “We will also engage the community in proactive planning for future activities and test culturally appropriate approaches supporting coral reef sustainability for us, our children and generations to come.”

 Project organizers at Kewalo Marine Laboratory are working with the Palau International Coral Reef Center, The Conservation Society of Pohnpei, the Palau Conservation Society, the University of Guam Marine Laboratory and the Yap Institute of Natural Science to develop this coral reef protection imitative. Project organizers will also share scientific expertise and institutional resources with ongoing NOAA-funded coral reef research and management activities in Maunalua Bay in Oahu, Hawaii and the new Western Pacific Coral Reef Institute at the University of Guam.

“This project is an excellent example of how NOAA can provide not only relevant science information, but also a framework to allow communities to develop and implement effective strategies to stop and hopefully reverse environmental degradation,” said Felix Martinez, Manager of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies Program at the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.