Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) has been conducting studies to assess conditions of almost all of PAN marine sites to support management of Palau’s MPAs, especially Protected Areas Network (PAN) marine sites.

Because Helen Reef’s remoteness and the cost required to conduct its complete assessment, PICRC has not conducted studies there since 2007.

With the financial support from PAN Fund and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, PICRC was able to conduct comprehensive surveys at Helen Reef from May 7 to May 13, 2018.

During the surveys, researchers from PICRC assessed corals and other marine animals, big invertebrates such as sea cucumbers, clams and trochus.

The fish communities were also studied to determine biomass and abundance.  To assess the health of coral populations and future conditions, researchers also studied juvenile or baby corals to get a sense of how well future populations will thrive.

Despite its remoteness, monitoring Helen Reef Conservation Area remains critical to its management. Through ecological surveys PICRC is able to determine the status of conservation areas and provide recommendations to stakeholders and policy makers. In three days, PICRC researchers conducted 130 transects at 13 different sites around Helen Reef.  Now, they will analyze the data from this trip to determine the trends since the last survey in 2007.

Mr. Ngiratmetuchel R. Belechl, AIF®, Chairman of PAN Fund Board of Directors shares that “only through our partnership with PICRC can we better understand the ecological status of the Helen Reef Protected Areas over time.  The survey will also assist PANs understanding of the level of progress in site management and will help guide future management decisions toward effective management of protected areas.”