Researchers from the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) have started the fieldwork phase of an important project on the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS). The project, “Understanding the Human Well-being Benefits of the PNMS for the People of Palau,” seeks to put together a picture of what every day Palauans believe they will gain from the PNMS. Fieldwork in this project is done by surveying households in Airai, the designated pilot site for the study.
Researchers began preparation for the fieldwork by training other PICRC staff in quantitative data collection tools and surveying methods. This will not only allow for a smoother data collection process, but it will also allow PICRC to publish this data in scientific publications at an international level.
The survey itself was created through a series of consultations with different community groups throughout Airai, including men, women, and fishermen. The answers from the survey will be used to form a baseline, which researchers can revisit in the future, to judge whether benefits were in fact delivered. The survey includes a variety of questions, such as accessibility to fish, income benefits, job creation, capacity-building and training, and cultural preservation.
PICRC would like to thank the state of Airai and its people for their collaboration in this phase of the project. If successfully piloted in Airai State, expansions to other states may be possible in the future. PICRC, as the body tasked with conducting research on the PNMS, continues to implement work to ensure scientific and data-based understanding of the large-scale MPA, and is grateful to the public for its continued support.