Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) research team has completed a report titled, “2019 Assessment of Ngermedellim Marine Sanctuary: Results indicate intervention is needed to boost reef recovery”, on the conservation area in Melekeok state.
The main objective of this survey was to understand the status and trends of ecological indicators within the Ngermedellim Marine Sanctuary, in comparison to nearby reference areas through time. This is the third assessment, after the assessments in 2017 and 2019, as well as the baseline assessment in 2014. The study consisted of underwater surveys on the reef flat habitat where data on fish, macro-invertebrates, juvenile coral density, and benthic coverage were collected. Results of the study show that the reef flat – seagrass habitat has a healthy seagrass cover that has remained consistent over time, in both the Sanctuary and the reference sites. Likewise, fish density has remained the same over time. Within the Sanctuary, however, a higher abundance of macro-invertebrates was observed, as well as an increase in macroalgae and turf algae cover, since 2014. Overall, the study shows that resources in the Ngermedellim Marine Sanctuary are slow to recover, which may be due to natural factors, such as lack of larval supply connectivity, macro algal overgrowth and low presence of herbivorous fish.
Continued monitoring of the Sanctuary and the reference sites will be helpful in tracking changes within the areas over time and indicate how to address the changes. In recent years, coral restoration projects have been underway and have shown some success. Since the Sanctuary has not shown improvement in coral recruitment, or growth over the past five years, coral restoration projects should be investigated in the Sanctuary as a potential to boost reef recovery. Additionally, the Sanctuary was historically known for its clam richness, however, clams have not been found in abundance over the past five years. The Melekeok Conservation Network has conducted clam planting activities, which may have aided in the increased abundance of macro-invertebrates within the area in 2019. Therefore, more studies on clam reproduction and recovery should be conducted within the Sanctuary to increase the reproduction and growth rate of giant clams within the Sanctuary.
Important recommendations are included in this report for effective management of Ngermedellim Marine Sanctuary in the future. Please see full report available on PICRC website: (http://picrc.org/picrcpage/technicalreports/).

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