Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries

Entry Overview

Abstract: 
Community driven enforcement and management of traditional fishing grounds for sustainable subsistence fishery
Entrant Image: 
Organization: 
Nimpal Channel Marine Conservation Area
Location: 
Yap
Micronesia
9° 32' 20.8932" N, 138° 7' 33.2112" E
Describe the problem: 

Active surveillance and enforcement of no-take marine conservation area is carried out by teams comprised of community members of the two villages who have ownership and fishing rights in the designated Nimpal Channel Marine Conservation Area (MCA). Violations of community adopted guidelines for the conservation area are dealt with by the communities through its authority under customary and traditional tenure ship of land and near-shore marine, which is duly recognized by the State's Constitution. This is community enforcing its own mandates upon its own members and any potential poachers who attempt to harvest within the community conservation zone.

Biodiversity Impact: 
Protecting the whole habitat area and all its lifeforms, the Nimpal Channel MCA creates a reserve within the communities fishing grounds that allows for natural marine ecosystem to thrive without disturbance from human population and allows revitalization of depleted fish stocks. This recent decline in fish abundance appears to be associated with contemporary harvesting practices, changes in lifestyle shifting to a more cash-base economy, and potentially negative water quality impacts. Successful enforcement of the area has created significant increase in fish density and most especially in fish bio-mass having overspill effect into surrounding fishing grounds where community fishermen are allowed to harvest and provide for their families. Further, community designation of nearby mangrove forest as a mangrove sanctuary protects nursery area for fish and other marine and terrestrial lifeforms. The mangrove sanctuary also ensures ecosystem services for filtration of water flow into the Nimpal Channel MCA and surrounding areas. These measures implemented by community help maintain healthy ecosystems which ensures a higher survival chance for the area against climate change impacts.
Human Well Being and Livelihood Impact: 
Community is benefiting already from the increase in fish stocks within their fishing grounds. The community promotes fishing only for subsistence purpose within its traditional fishing grounds. Community members who participate in the surveillance watch program are given a minimal stipend for their efforts. Those who undergo training and carry out biological monitoring and other related surveys are compensated at a rate 63% higher than the average hourly rate for the island. The improved status of the area contributes to attractiveness of site for potential revenue generating activities such as diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. Community is working to develop business plan to deploy these income generating activities and will utilize community members as guides and other needed resource persons. The business plan is slated to be completed in 2012 and income generating activities implemented would provide for additional income flow into community. The estimated population of the two villages is about 300 with approximately 127 resident population. The other portion of the population either reside in other villages of the island or live abroad; however, they retain traditional ties to the villages and return to harvest or cause for harvesting for their benefit. The initiative improves upon community capacity to manage resources effectively within their traditional domain. // Duly recognized by the State's Constitution, nearly 90% of terrestrial and 100% of near-shore marine areas of Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia is owned and managed under customary traditional tenure ship. For the Nimpal Channel MCA, a core group comprised of representatives from both villages respective of its traditional leadership, estates, and general population are tasked with the responsibility of oversight and management of resources within designated conservation zones. This core group meet regularly on a monthly basis and reports and updates of the project are provided by the project manager and supporting partners. Core group meetings focus on planning and community implementation of activities related to community initiative. These representatives are also tasked with sharing information of the initiative in its respective village meetings and gatherings. Violation of community regulation and guidelines for the conservation zone are addressed by the community under its customary traditional authority. Just recently in August 2011, community leadership endorsed a 3-year management plan for the Nimpal Channel MCA. The community is working in collaboration with technical partners to develop standard operation procedures, consistent with State laws, that would further document guidelines for community surveillance teams enforcing community mandated area.
Replicability: 
How many years has your solution been applied 6 years // Have others reproduced your solution elsewhere? No // A floating surveillance platform is utilized by the community and moored nearby and outside the core conservation area. This platform serves as a base for nightly watches by joint surveillance teams. Solar powered markers are installed at the corners of the zone improving visibility of zoned area at night when most fishing activities take place. A 50-ft. buffer zone extending outward from the demarcated boundaries serves as a zone where community surveillance teams can intercept fishermen and prevent intrusion into the core conservation area, as well as provide for awareness and education on the conservation area. Surveillance teams utilize kayaks and a motor boat for patrol activities. The daily activities of the project is overseen by a community designated project manager who reports to a community core group. The project management unit is housed by community based organization which provides administrative and organizational support for the community initiative. Community had been able to secure some outside grant funding that helped jump start the above activities at the community level. With support and technical assistance from partners, community members carry out collection of data on water quality surveys and some biological monitoring within its area. More detailed and comprehensive surveys and analysis of data are provided by technical partners to the initiative. Community shares its experiences, challenges, and achievements with other local communities by participating in learning exchanges organized by supporting partners.
Solution: 
Major local threats identified for the Nimpal Channel communities are overfishing and potentially negative water quality impacts. By self imposing a no-take conservation area and actively enforcing its mandate, the community addresses the first threat whereby putting in place measures to ensure sustainability of marine resources. Establishment of the mangrove sanctuary area serves two purpose of ensuring healthy nursery area for fish and also provide for ecological system services in maintaining good water quality flow. The communities also are reestablishing/strengthening traditional management practices that care for near-shore and coastal areas, focusing on water way management. Through ongoing monthly meetings and community outreach activities, the greater community is informed and educated on linkages between land based activities and its impacts on marine environment. // The core marine no-take area is square-like and approximately 77.5 hectares - encompassing a marine channel, its adjoining inner and outer reef bank areas. A 50-ft. buffer zone extends from demarcated boundary outward. This core conservation area is about a third of the two villages combined traditional fishing grounds - an area at a minimum approximately 277 hectares. The mangrove sanctuary area is about 15 hectares of pristine mangrove forestry.

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