Fisheries management efforts in the face of climate change in Pohnpei, Micronesia

By: Jorg Anson
Marine and Environmental Research Institute of Pohnpei - 10 OCT 2015
The need to implement effective management measures for Pohnpei's inshore fisheries continue to grow as recent results of biological and socioeconomic research findings become available in Pohnpei and throughout the Micronesia region. Despite implementation of new laws, and regulations such as fish size limits for ten species of reef fish, extended seasonal bans on groupers, gear-type restrictions, and a push for a moratorium on the bump-head parrotfish (Kemeik) and the Napoleon wrasse (Merer), Pohnpei's inshore fisheries continue to decline. Primary reasons for this appear to be poor enforcement and lack of awareness within our fishing communities. The need to find sustainable alternatives for fishing and sakau farming are also continuously being raised at the community level. Recent studies show continued decrease in fish sizes in the markets and the time it takes fishermen to catch these fish is growing, both signs of declining fisheries. Marine Protected Areas in Pohnpei that do not have community support continue to be overfished due to poor support from enforcement agencies. In addition, the slow but inevitable effects of climate change, this year's El Nińo, and poor land management practices are putting increasing pressure on our fisheries.

The Marine and Environmental Research Institute of Pohnpei (MERIP) under the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through a grant from the Pacific American Climate Fund (PACAM) have established a new outreach and awareness program that focuses on engaging with communities that are home to the highest densities of fishermen in Pohnpei. The goal of this program is to work with State resource agencies and local NGO's to educate community members on fisheries management and adaptations with an emphasis on sustainable activities that not only provide fishermen with income generating alternatives but also promote roles for women and youth. During these community engagements, MERIP facilitated exercises where community members identified threats to their fisheries and potential solutions. Communities were also given a chance to prioritize potential actions that are locally attainable and can be accomplished within one to three years.
MERIP has so far completed engagements in the municipalities of Kitti (Woun Koapin Soamwoai and Pehleng communities) and Sokehs (Peidie, Soledi, and Roie communities). Three further engagements are also planned with the municipalities of Madolenihmw (Nanwap community), Nett (Sapwitiki, Lenger, and Parem community) and U (Depehk and Takaiou community). MERIP is proud to be working with government and local partners including the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, Pohnpei State Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Division of Forestry under the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and FSM Department of Resources and Development. MERIP would also like to thank the following key community members that have played a huge role in the success and attendance of these workshop: The Honorable Daker D. Daniel (Member of Pohnpei State Legislature) and Mr. Welper David of Pehleng community, Mr. Aisek Artui and Mr. Mike Chipen of Sokehs Section 2, Mr. Marino Eperiam and Mr. Estephan Paulino of Woaun Koapin Soamwoai community, and Mr. Zeiger Sonden and Ms. Rihna Villazon of Nanwap Community. MERIP and USAID, through the PACAM project are committed to helping the people of Pohnpei adapt to the effects of climate change by being mindful of the fact that it is essential we conserve our fisheries and marine environment if we are to adapt to the effects of climate change.