PALAU, JAPAN PLAN CORAL REEF PROTECTION

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$2 million project to improve monitoring

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Sept. 28, 2009) - Palau and Japan held its first Joint Coordination Committee meeting to discuss the project dubbed as Capacity Enhancement Project for Coral Reef Monitoring which aims to improve the technical capacity of Palau to monitor and manage the Marine Protected Area.

The meeting was held on Tuesday at the conference room of Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) and was attended by representatives of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and State and government officials and other agencies.

It will be a joint effort of PICRC, State governments, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism and local residents.

Governors Yositaka Adachi of Koror, Wilson Ongos of the Ngaremlengui State, Akiko Sugiyama of the Ngardmau State, Florencio Adelbai of Ngchesar State and Vicky Kanai of Airai, Palau Community College President and PICRC Chairman Dr. Patrick Tellei, Fabian Iyar, Chief Executive Officer of PICRC, JICA representatives Dr. Seiji Nakaya, Shingo Takeda, Makoto Noda, Masayuki Takashima and representatives of Protected Area Network (PAN), Palau Automated Land and Resource Information System (PALARIS) MC and Office of Environment Response and Coordination (OERC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) were all present at the meeting.

The group discussed the project which is worth $2 million and is funded by the JICA.

The purpose of the project is to improve the capacity of monitoring the coral reef and the management of Marine Protected Areas in Palau.

Japan will provide equipments and training for personnel for coral reef conservation, MPA management, coral reef monitoring and Geographic Information System.

Under the proposed activities, the group will review the current situation in conservation and management of MPA and monitoring activities and select target MPAs for monitoring in consultation with local communities and administrative agencies related to MPAs and to promote participation of local communities and officials of State governments in the monitoring activities.

The group will also prepare the monitoring plan based on standardized regulations of Palau and of other international initiatives or related agencies.

During the discussion, Airai State Governor Vicky Kanai suggested that before they implement the project it’s important to get the blessing or endorsement of the legislators.

"We have to involve the legislators or to get their blessings since we (States) are the resource owners of the project," Gov. Kanai explained in a brief interview.

Regional Coordinator for Micronesia Challenge Regional Office Charlene Mersai suggested that they draft a monitoring protocol that is suitable to the needs of the States.

Dr. Patrick Tellei, Palau Community College President and PICRC Chairman suggested defining the program in a way that the community will understand it better.

The project was conceptualized in 2008 during JICA’s visit to conduct preliminary study after Palau requested for technical support to strengthen the capacities of monitoring for MPA management.

Series of discussions were held until the project was finalized in May when Palau and Japan signed the Minutes of Meeting.

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