Ngulu Atoll covers a huge area of critical reef habitat between Yap and Palau. OneReef’s conservation program is focused on managing fish populations between these two biological hotspots.
Ngulu Atoll covers an area of 29,700 acres and is located approximately 20 miles southwest of Yap Island, Federated States of Micronesia. For perspective – it is larger than the entirety of Monterey Bay! Approximately 20 people live on the atoll, and have witnessed an increase in illegal fishing and storm impacts at the Atoll.
There are 18 fringing reefs around Ngulu Atoll, which provide invaluable protection against large waves and are home to a diverse array of marine life. By maintaining fish populations and stopping all harmful fishing methods that could damage corals, Ngulu Atoll’s community hoped to enable their long-term resilience to the impacts of the climate change.
In 2010, the Ngulu Management Committee signed a Marine Conservation Agreement (MCA) with OneReef to formally protect Ngulu Atoll. The agreement placed 75% of the Atoll under no-fishing regulations – fully protecting 22,388 acres. The remaining area has been designated for the community’s subsistence and minor commercial use, and includes species-specific take limits.
Ngulu has developed a relationship with the local police to enforce fishing violations. In Novmber 2014, four illegal fishing vessels were captured at Ngulu Atoll and brought to harbour in Yap where they were remanded to the Office of the Attorney General. Through similar such actions, Ngulu has the capacity and partnerships in place to protect their reefs from illegal fishing.
Ngulu Atoll covers a broad area of ocean and requires constant surveillance and monitoring. The two greatest needs are: 1) increased radar presence on the atoll and 2) scientific baseline assessments.
We are in the process of installing an innovative radar system at our site at Ant Atoll, Pohnpei. There is WiFi connectivity, which means that a network of these radars could be implemented at Ngulu to give full coverage of the managed areas. We hope to raise funds and develop this network in late 2016.
Additionally, Ngulu’s many reefs are ready for a baseline assessment by our science partners. This undertaking will provide critical information about Yap and Ngulu’s reef health, and will also help us create a pattern of connectivity with nearby Palau. As we further our mission of “Vibrant Reefs, Thriving Communities,” we hope to create a network of biological connectivity as well as community engagement and cross-cultural support.