Marshall Islands Marine Resource Authority launched its Protected Area Network (PAN) office last week at International Conference Center.
The PAN program vision is for a sustainable and resilient Marshall Islands where natural and cultural resources are effectively managed and conserved for future generations. Their mission to secure and enable mobilization of resources in support of the establishment and management of a network of protected areas in the Marshall Islands.
“PAN started off in Nitijela,” said Natural Resources and Commerce Minister John Silk in his remarks. “All our goals are to protect our ocean, our atmosphere and our livelihoods. I am not just talking about fish, I am also talking about our chickens, crab and other food,” he said.
A memorandum of understanding in support of the PAN program was signed by the Coastal Management Advisory Council (CMAC).
“Before the PAN, we had Reimaanlok, and before the Reimaanlok we had the Micronesia Challenge,” said PAN Office Director Emma Kabua-Tibon. “The Micronesia Challenge came up in 2006 when all the leaders from Marshall Islands, Federated Sates of Micronesia, Palau, CNMI and Guam signed a commitment to conserve at least 30 percent of our near-shore resources and 20 percent of our terrestrial (land) resources. In order to meet the all goals under the Micronesia Challenge we developed the Reimaanlok (Looking to the Future) program. Reimaanlok is our national conservation area plan.”
This plan provides guidelines and processes to assist local communities to develop resource management plans and set aside conservation areas. In other words, Emma explained, it’s a community-based resource management planning process.
“When we initiated Reimaanlok we worked with CMAC as partners,” she said, pointing out that CMAC includes many people and agencies involved in marine resource conservation and research efforts. “What we do is facilitate the Reimaanlok process with different sites in the Marshall Islands when they submit a request and say they have issues with coastal erosion, over fishing or marine pollution,” she said. “Any environmental issues that they seek our assistance with — that’s how we initiate Reimaanlok.”
This leads to consultations with local communities on the outer islands and awareness activities. This is followed by MIMRA and CMAC teams conducting marine, social and economic surveys in these communities. “We use all that data to help them develop their resource management plans,” Emma said.
With the PAN office at MIMRA now operational, this will help increase momentum for sustainable management of marine and other resources.