Palau Marine Environment Study To Be Released

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Efficacy of system of small marine protected areas explored

By Peter Erick L. Magbanua

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, May 18, 2015) – In September 2014, the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) worked closely with top coral reef scientists on a study conducted to assess the health of Palau’s marine environment in conjunction with an expedition led by the National Geographic Society.

In addition, the expedition aimed to evaluate the efficacy of Palau’s established marine protected areas. The results of the study will be briefed this week to Palauan leaders at a series of meetings to be held at the Center beginning today.

Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, Chief Executive Officer of the Palau International Coral Reef Center, along with Dr. Alan Friedlander of the University of Hawaii and the National Geographic Society, conducted the study and will present its results.

This is the first comprehensive study of the efficacy of Palau’s current system of small marine protected areas. At the time of the study last fall, both Dr. Golbuu and Dr. Friedlander were impressed with the relative health of the deep-sea environment, and found the near-shore protected areas to be among the most pristine in the Pacific.

The study, which was recently completed, compares Palau’s deep-sea and off-shore protected areas to similar coral reef and deep water environments. The question of whether protected areas work is one for which there is a growing body of evidence globally supporting the establishment of reserves. This study was limited to the current near-shore marine protected areas in Palau, but it was designed to assess the potential for positive environmental impacts if the proposed large-scale sanctuary in Palau’s national waters was established.

A summary of the results of the study will be available to the public on Wednesday at the Center’s web site, www.picrc.org. Copies of the full report will also be available at the Center later this week.

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