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Trip to Eastern Outer Islands


Mission Objective: To conduct an Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) survey of the marine coastal resources of the two islands, targeting especially the sea cucumber species of greenfish  (Stichopus chloronotus) and surf redfish (Actinopyga mauritiana) to determine their abundance.

 

Mission Team consist of the Honorable Mr. Marcello Peterson, Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Sherman Lee a Taiwanese Businessman accompanied by the owner of China Star Hotel, Honorable Mayor of Pingelap Municipal Government Mr. Makir Keller, Honorable Chief Representative of Mwokilloa Municipal Government, and Mr. Itaia Fred of the Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture (OFA).

 

The mission took off from Pohnpei International Airport at approximately 9:35 AM (local time) via Caroline Island Air V6-05M heading for the island of Pingelap. Upon take off, the pilot announced that the flight will take an hour and twenty five minute to reach destination. In about 45 minutes in flight, the mission team flew over the island of Mwokilloa heading toward Pingelap island.

The team landed in Pingelap about 10:50 AM (local time) and were escorted by the Mayor and community people to Municipal Office for the introductions of the special mission trip and followed by a special lunch of delicious local recipes.

In the introduction meeting, the Honorable Mr. Peterson addressed the community the importance of sustainable management and utilization of our resources, further stretching the need to work collectively to promote our local production with the assistance and intervention of the foreign business people to improve the livelihood of the community people of Pohnpei especially those living on remote outer islands. He also extend to the community people the new developments recently undertaken on the main island, Pohnpei, which is the recycling and purchasing of aluminum cans beginning this week and encouraged the islanders to join effort with the program by collecting cans for recycle for additional incomes as well as keeping the beauty and cleanliness of the island.

The distinguished guest and businessman from Taiwan, Mr. Sherman Lee had an opportunity to thank the local people for their hospitality and warm welcome and eagerly looking  forward in working with them through farming and purchasing of sea cucumbers in a sustainable and long term business relations. He looks forward to supports and participations of the other outer islands of Pohnpei including the main island.

Pingelap Atoll Survey

The survey on Pingelap started at 12:50 PM (noontime) spearheaded by Mr. Fred, OFA specialist with two local municipal employees, one who works with their newly established pearls oyster farm, Mr. James Ehmes. The survey team conducted a 1,000 sq. meters perimeter survey using a 100 meter transect tape in order to determine the quantity of the sea cucumber species available, the substrate condition and the physical environmental condition of the surveyed area. Two sites were selected for this preliminary survey and with the data collected, Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture (OFA) would be able to analyze and determine an approximate quantity of species found based on the total reef area of the island. The survey primarily focused on the given sea cucumber species of greenfish  (Stichopus chloronotus) and surf redfish (Actinopyga mauritiana), however, given the importance of their habitat conditions, several significant features of the sites, such as corals and seagrass beds are also observed and noted during the survey to determine their health and survivability.  Coral reef ecosystems are complex and diverse. The NASA Millennium Coral Reef Mapping Project (http://imars.marine.usf.edu/corals/index.html) has identified and classified coral reefs of the world in about 1000 categories.[1] These very detailed categories can be used directly to try to explain the status of living resources or be lumped into more general categories to fit a study’s particular needs.


[1] Thanks to a collaboration with Dr Serge Andrefouet, IRD-Coreus Noumea and leader of the Millenium Project, our study benefited in real time from the outputs of the ongoing Millenium Project.

Survey Site 1. Primary lagoon side of the community center adjacent to theairstrip.

Based on the sites surveyed, these data reflects a positive implication of high density of the greenfish species of sea cucumber in Pingelap. With the data collected, we were able to calculate an estimate figure and that the targeted sea cucumber species density and size varies from site to site due to their location, food abundance, predators, and other water parameters.  Strong identification of community structures is greatly influenced by the habitat conditions in each of the sites surveyed. Generally, good, protective habitats hosts higher and various species than those reef areas that have been constantly affected by human activities. The following are the actual data collected during the survey and analyzed with the use of the Reef fish Identification Database (RFID) system, a device created by the Reef Fisheries Observatory Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in which OFA also utilizes in its assessment surveys of our resources.

Pingelap Atoll Survey Results

Sites

Greenfish

Surf Redfish

Lollifish

1

83

0

155

2

255

0

235

 

 

 

 

TOTALs

 

 

 

2 sites

338

0

390

 

 

 

 

 

The team departed Pingelap Atoll heading for Mwokilloa Atoll at 2:00 PM in the afternoon.

Mwokilloa Atoll Survey

The team landed in Mwokilloa at about 2:35 PM and the mission team met with the people headed by  Lt. Governor. After the brief introduction meeting, the fisheries survey team with a local heads out for the survey sites.  There were also two sites selected for the survey for the island of Mwokilloa. The results from the survey in Mwokilloa reflects a lower figure than the results from its’ sister-island, Pingelap.

Mwokilloa Atoll Survey Results

Sites

Greenfish

Surf Redfish

Lollifish

1

0

0

Abundant

2

0

0

Abundant

 

 

 

 

TOTALs

 

 

 

2 sites

0

0

Abundant

 

 

 

 


With the findings of the survey, local fishermen were interviewed after the survey regarding the availability of the targeted species. The local fishermen confirmed that there were greenfish but limited, and for the surf redfish, it is found on the outer reef.

Recommendations and technical support will be provided by the Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the development of our aquaculture projects in our fishing communities in Pohnpei.

 




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