A 10-year study conducted by Ebiil Society, a non-governmental civil organization based in Ngarchelong State, showed an alarming decline in seafood catch, particularly of nearshore species used by locals as food and subsistence income source.
In a presentation to Palau’s national leaders, Ann Singeo, Director of Ebiil Society reported that their study shows a drastic decrease in sea cucumber species such as cheremrum, ngimes, and molech. According to their study, cheremrum dropped by 88%, ngimes by 71% and molech by 91%.
The study also showed the corresponding decline in other species demanded by restaurants such as mangrove crabs (emang), mangrove clams (ngduul) and tuna fish (ngikelel chetakl).
The study raised other concerns including those most affected by resource decline, limited collection and application of data directly to resource management.
According to Mrs. Singeo, most of those that harvest inshore marine resource for food and subsistence income are women. 73% of the people that harvest inshore marine resources for income are women who depend on this for themselves and their families.
An example cited was the opening of commercial sale of sea cucumber from 2009 to 2012. After the resources were depleted, people were forced to go to areas where these resource breed to harvest thereby creating unsustainable results. Causes cited for such depletion include overharvesting, unsustainable development, and pollution.
The same is said of other marine resources such as fish, mangrove crabs and others. High commercial demand exceeds supply putting a strain on the resources.
The study recommended a more organized system between supply and demand using data to manage and balance the fishing industry in order to have a more sustainable marine population and environment.
“With a better understanding of supply and demand, we are able to coordinate market efforts, trace the source of products so we know where the product came from and who consumes it,” reported Ann Singeo of Ebiil Society. (Kerdeu Uong)