The Ngardok Nature Reserve, although well-known for its famous Ngardok Lake, also includes the marine habitat of the Melekeok coast, with the marine protected area Ngermedellim Marine Sanctuary included in the network. In order to highlight the importance of marine resources in Melekeok, the Ngardok Nature Reserve 25th Anniversary Organizing Committee (NNR 25th AOC) and RARE co-hosted a local fishing derby this past Saturday at Ngermecheluch Dock in Melekeok. Melekeok residents participated in a two-part program: a fishing derby with 4 categories, as well as a family fun day on land while spectators waited for fishers to return.

Categories for the fishing derby were as follows: omeldesakl (light fishing), omalech (spearfishing), omuked (net fishing), and mengesechol (gleaning) for children. In accordance with conservation standards and guidelines, fishers were instructed to not to target undersize (under 7 inches) or illegal species, while gleaners were instructed to keep their catch in water in order to release them later, alive.

The winners for the omeldesakl were Team Keith in 1st place, winning $150, Team Franz in 2nd with a prize of $100, and Team Emy in 3rd place winning $75. Winners for omalech were Reksid Kintaro in 1st winning $150, Kane Oketol in 2nd with a prize of $100, and Omar Faustino in 3rd winning $75. The omuked category had Toribiong Mekreos as the champion with a prize of $150, Edley Eriang in 2nd place with $100, and Aldrin Tellei in 3rd with $75. The mengesechol category, which was primarily children, had Rie Mekreos in 1st place, winning $100, Aurora Antonio in 2nd winning $75, and Vanessa Coolidge in 3rd with a prize of $50.

Additional prizes were also awarded. Senatorial candidate Ann Kloulchad-Singeo donated a one-night stay at Palau Royal Resort (PRR), which was awarded to Team Emy, the only adult women fishers who participated in the derby. The prize for most promising fisher was awarded to Tia Shiro, who won $50 for showing exemplary skill and dedication as a young fisher in the mengesechol category.

In total, there were 28.05 pounds of fish caught for the derby, and 1001 chesechol (Pacific surf clam) collected at the end of the day. Kevin Mesebeluu, the Palau representative for RARE, stated at the closing ceremony that the derby is done to highlight the importance of our coastal resources, and how fishers have grown showing concern that fish populations appear to be declining. Measures like registering as a fisher, permitting for visitors, species moratorium and catch reporting are proven ways to ensure sustainable coastal fisheries and livelihoods. These along with managed access areas like Ngeschisau and reserves like Ngermedellim are essential interventions to climate change and are being developed in other countries like Palau by RARE.

For more information about Ngardok Nature Reserve, please contact MCN Coordinator Dearlynn Rebluud, at;;  or visit Melekeok Conservation Network on Facebook and @ngardok_mcn on Instagram.

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