Community Steward Spotlight

Poch was born and raised in the Republic of Palau, spending much of his time in Ngarchelong State, the northern-most community at the tip of Babeldaob Island. He is well-known in his community to be an avid fisherman who is guaranteed to return from the sea with a prized catch.  From the elders in his community, he has gained in-depth knowledge of the vast expanse of ocean and reef systems that make up the Northern Reef.  The elders have also passed on generational knowledge regarding valuable marine resources, traditional navigation, and fishing practices. All of this makes Poch an invaluable member of the Ngarchelong State Division of Conservation & Law Enforcement (NSDCLE) in the Republic of Palau. Slightly more seasoned of the seven (7) rangers on their team, Poch frequently serves as the leading skipper for monitoring, patrolling, and rescue activities. He often services boat engines, repairs equipment, or creatively resolves electrical or mechanical issues on their patrol boats.

In 2019, Poch demonstrated his devotion to his community’s conservation initiatives and commitment to the partnership with OneReef by dedicating countless hours to perfecting the performance of the M2 Radar System located at Ollei Port (village main dock). This Marine Monitoring System is an electronic navigation instrument that uses a rotating antenna similar to marine radars on ships that detect other vessels and land obstacles. Poch worked tireless hours with ProtectedSeas technical experts in the U.S. and the OneReef U.S. and Micronesia teams, on and off the clock for most of the year to troubleshoot and ground-truth the system for optimum performance.

This year, Poch led one of the local/island teams that successfully conducted their reefs imaging – the first time this has been done without our collaborating scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This transformative imaging allows us and scientists to monitor more reefs without spending money traveling to remote places. It puts cutting-edge technology in the hands of local islanders with the traditional knowledge of their marine ecosystem.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Poch is indispensable to OneReef efforts in Ngarchelong, and his resourcefulness and dedication enhances our capabilities in Palau and the rest of Micronesia.  Aside from his professional obligations to the Ngarchelong State Ranger team, Poch continues to safeguard the environment that his community has relied upon for centuries through his strong sense of responsibility to serve his community and preserve his cultural heritage.