As the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) celebrates its 20th Anniversary, the Center looks forward to continuing its mandate to guide the efforts that support coral reel stewardship through research. In addition, PICRC continues to strive to achieve its vision of empowering the people of Palau with scientific knowledge through education and outreach efforts, which run throughout the year.
2020 brought on a new mandate for PICRC as the Center takes on the task of administering the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS), as such, new projects supporting the PNMS will be underway in 2021. These include a socioeconomic baseline study conducted in the state of Airai – gauging the residents’ understanding of the benefits and impacts of the PNMS to the Airai community. In addition to the socioeconomic study, PICRC is collaborating with partners on pelagic fisheries research – tagging yellowfin tuna and marlins and looking at connectivity of pelagics. PICRC is also working closely with the National Government to implement new Fishing Aggregation Devices to contribute to more sustainable food sources and provide locals with means to fish for pelagic fishes. Additionally, PICRC will continue to support the efforts of marine law enforcement and work closely with the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism (MNRET) in the development of a domestic fishery.
In addition to fulfilling the needs for PNMS, PICRC continues on with its monitoring programs. The third assessment on Palau’s fish stocks will begin in the month of February and continue until all 96 sites located all over Palau have been surveyed. PICRC’s long term coral reef monitoring (CRM) at 23 sites and coral bleaching assessments at 80 sites have been conducted and is pending analysis and reporting in the upcoming year.
Finally, in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) a new ocean acidification lab will be established at PICRC in the coming year. This lab will enable PICRC to conduct more in-depth research with water quality, ocean acidification, and more.
The PICRC team is busy and well underway to completing many of its current projects and taking on new ones as the Center’s mandate for providing research findings to the nation has increased in scope. As always, PICRC is committed to its vision of empowering the people of Palau, the region, and the world, with sound scientific knowledge that will enable effective and efficient management of coral reefs and its associated ecosystems.