OneReef’s unique ability to provide the technical and scientific resources needed for effective conservation is what makes it attractive to the government of Palau as it‘s in the process of implementing its ambitious ocean policies. OneReef’s work with communities to build their capacity to manage and monitor near shore environment can be used to contribute to the implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary policy.
For example, we are testing the M2 Radar with the Ngarchelong community (Northern Reefs, Palau). Additionally, in February 2018, in Ngarchelong state, a team of nine rangers were trained and certified in legal citation methods, overnight patrols, reporting, as well as vessel boarding, apprehension, and other safety measures. This training was made possible through OneReef’s partnership with Palau’s Ministry of Justice and the Guam Department of Agriculture/Division of Fish and Wildlife. Since the initial training, OneReef has continued to foster Ngarchelong State Rangers’ enforcement capacity development with weekly in-person follow up. Consequently, Ngarchelong State Rangers have increased their effectiveness at carrying out weekly patrols and are contributing to Palau’s national embargo on international fishing in its waters by stationing trained rangers at the northernmost reefs of Palau.
In early November, Ngarchelong State Rangers employed surveillance and law enforcement tactics to locate and intercept three vessels roaming inside the Ebiil Marine Protected Area (MPA). The MPA spans approximately 15 square kilometers (5.8 square miles) and includes important fish aggregation and spawning sites in Palau. Despite their relatively small unit, the rangers coordinated their surveillance through radio communication from three separate locations to find and verify vessel activities. As a result, one boat was cited for fishing without a permit in accordance with the state’s regulations. More recently (January 2019), the Ngarchelong Rangers rescued a small Hawksbill turtle from marine debris (including a ghost net). You can watch the video here.
OneReef’s engagement with Ngarchelong is of strategic importance because the experience there will help us succeed faster in other communities in the region.