On February 12, 2020, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) research staff, Marine Gouezo and Dawnette Olsudong, along with researchers from Australia Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), and Southern Cross University and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSRIO), published a study in the journal Scientific Report from the publishers of Nature. Titled “Relative roles of biological and physical processes influencing coral recruitment during the lag phase of reef community recovery,” this research explores the process of coral recolonization after severe typhoon disturbances.
In 2019, the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) was charged with the mission of conducting research and monitoring the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS). In 2020, one of the first components of that research has begun: a socio-economic study to determine the potential benefits of the PNMS for local Palauans and track them over time.
The first phase of the study is a series of focus group meetings which were held last week from February 3 to 6. The focus group meetings consisted of individuals from different areas of society from the state of Airai to voice their opinions on the possible benefits of the PNMS for Palauans and people living in Palau. These groups included female and male community members, fishermen, the private sector, and professionals working in the environmental and conservation sector. The responses from these group discussions will be used to form a questionnaire, which will be administered to households in Airai later this year. In turn, this household surveys will be used to create a baseline of data to track, over time, whether the PNMS is delivering on its expected benefits. This pilot survey will be done in Airai and later administered to all other states of Palau.
During the first week of February, 2020, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) welcomed Dr. Charity Lee and the Research team from Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST), and Professor Christopher Sabine from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, to continue to build capacity in the monitoring of acidity levels in Palau’s waters.
On January 2018, in collaboration with KIOST, PICRC installed an Ocean Acidification (OA) monitoring buoy in Ngederrak Conservation Area. This non-invasive system takes eight measurements daily, monitoring the water’s pH, temperature, salinity and carbon dioxide levels. KIOST scientists regularly visit PICRC to assist and train in the proper maintenance and upgrade of the equipment.
In an eventful start to the year, the island of Palau has found itself in the midst of a fish shortage, with many restaurants and small caterers on island unable to find fish. With the official closure of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) on January 1, 2020, many have pointed to the PNMS as the source of this issue.
However, this shortfall follows a pattern. In the past, during the months of January and February, when Chinese New Year is celebrated, it was common for Taiwan-owned fishing operations to slow or stop. Other fish shortages throughout the year have been reported as well. Indeed, Kuniyoshi Fishing Company (KFC) and Palau Tuna, Incorporated continue to purchase fishing days and are expected to offload next month, according to MNRET Minister Umiich Sengebau.
On February 4-5, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) researchers, Ms. Lincy Lee Marino and Ms. Shirley Koshiba, Micronesia Challenge (MC) Regional Socio-economic Monitoring (SEM) Coordinator, Mr. Winfred Mudong, MC Regional Coordinator, Ms. Geraldine Datuin and MC Champions intern, Ms. Shuri Chibana attended a two-day training on MC SEM database at PICRC. The training was conducted by Ms. Sun Bak Hospital, who is a Data Scientist based in Hawaii, and funded by a grant from the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT). The purpose of the training was to instruct the attendees in the use of MySQL Workbench, a data storage tool, used to download, filter, manage and safely store data.