On May 8, 2021, OneReef and Uchul a Chei Fishers (UACF) undertook their first collaboration by volunteering to support the Koror State Government’s Scoop n’ Go challenge planned initially for Earth Day. The Koror State Government (KSG) has observed an alarming increase in marine debris in the Rock Island Southern Lagoon – a designated World Heritage site and a popular tourist attraction for divers and snorkelers. The UACF contributed six boats that transported 84 Palauan families (including elders and children) from OneReef partner communities and the OneReef team to participate in this event.  The fun-filled day included traditional bottom-line fishing with the kids in the morning and trash collection in the afternoon. The boats returned with over 108 trash bags (33 and 55-gallons) of marine debris (over 2000 pounds of trash) and placed first in the Challenge!

About the partnership

The OneReef and UACF partnership came about on March 11, 2021, when OneReef and more than 20 technical partners from across Palau participated in a collaborative effort led by The Nature Conservancy to coordinate efforts to help address the challenges that fishers face both in oceanic and coastal fisheries. The initiative’s outcome was to prioritize addressing issues such as advocacy to establish a consistent supply and demand market system and a cooperative that can help subsidize the increasing fuel costs. OneReef and UACF were designated co-chairs of the agreed-upon national initiative committed to developing young fishers and ocean stewards by transferring traditional fishing knowledge and stewardship principles to youth across the island.

 

About Uchul a Chei Fishers

Uchul a Chei Fishers (UACF), a membership-based organization for Palauan fishers chartered in November 2020. This partnership aims to conduct a national youth outreach program focused on reconnecting youth to the ocean and traditional fishing. Members of this organization have significant life experiences on the ocean. They consider themselves part of a declining group of Palauan anglers who continue to uphold traditional fishing knowledge, practices, and stewardship principles based on a deep ocean kinship focused on respect and reciprocity. Palauan fishers feel a sense of responsibility to transfer traditional fishing knowledge, principles, and practices to young Palauans so that they can continue to safeguard the ocean, maintain active lifestyles, consume healthy diets, and preserve their Palauan cultural identity.

Looking ahead

OneReef and UACF are continuing to work together to coordinate the national youth outreach program to reconnect youth with the ocean and traditional fishing; OneReef will provide support for the launching of UACF’s first Youth Omenged Program sometime this year.