Science and monitoring is one of the key component of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) and is necessary for its management. A good research plan will provide the necessary information that management need to make good decisions regarding Sanctuary. To help in the development of the research plan, Palau engaged Dr. Alan Friedlander, Chief Scientist from National Geographic’s Pristine Seas and director of the Fisheries Ecology Research Lab at the University of Hawaii, and Mr. Dan Myers, who is Nat Geographic Pristine Seas’ Director of Policy to help with the plan.
During their week-long visit in Palau, Dr. Friedlander and Mr. Myers worked with Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) and Mr. Keobel Sakuma, Executive Director of the PNMS office, and other partners to help kick start a research and monitoring program for the Marine Sanctuary.
At the end of the visit, a rough outline of a research plan has been developed. The plan would need to be refined further before it can be presented to the PNMS Executive Committee. One of the immediate first step is to conduct an assessment of all available information relevant to the PNMS. That document would serve as a basis of a scientific meeting to finalize the research plan for the PNMS. Palau partners, including National Geographic, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and others have committed to support Palau in the development of the research plan.
Dr. Friedlander has been in Palau on numerous occasions working with PICRC on several projects like the assessment of Bumphead Parrotfish and Napoleon Wrasse, grouper spawning aggregations, and the National Geographic Pristine Seas documentary film that featured Palau. PICRC, PNMS, and other partners continue to depend on Dr. Friedlander for his assistance because of his expertise and experience in conservation initiatives like the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a marine protected area located in Hawaii, as well as his involvement in Big Ocean, a peer-learning network created by managers for managers of large-scale marine areas.
“It is very important for us to have a good science and monitoring program that support the management of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, stated Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, who is the CEO of PICRC and also heads the Science and monitoring component of the PNMS Executive Committee. Dr. Golbuu further stated, “We need to be able to track conservation benefits, develop and monitor key indicators and assess how they change over time as we implement the Sanctuary. This information is necessary so we can determine how well the Sanctuary is doing and make necessary management decisions based on good scientific information to ensure success. Because of the importance of science to management of the PNMS, we are engaging our partners and experts from around the world to work with us on the research plan.”
“Strong science supports strong management. A thorough and methodical science plan is critical to the long-term success of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary. Moreover, a well-designed science plan can help us better understand how marine sanctuaries benefit fisheries and the local economy. National Geographic’s Pristine Seas is proud to contribute to the process.” according to Dr. Alan Friedlander. [/restrict]