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Helen Island


Conservation benefit: Support of the conservation of 64,742 acres of reef, lagoon, atoll, and territorial waters

Community benefit: Construction of a community dispensary

Date Approved: 07.2005


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Helen Island is Palau’s largest community-designated Locally Managed Marine Area. It is also one of the Pacific’s most outstanding atoll complexes in terms of marine biodiversity.

Realizing the benefits of preserving their resources, the people of Hatohobei (Tobi) Island, 40 miles from Helen Reef, have collectively declared the entire Helen Reef as a permanently protected area. In support of this conservation effort, Seacology will provide funding for a much-needed community dispensary.

Project Updates

December 2015

Community commitment to the no-take marine area remains strong. There are four full-time conservation officers at the Helen Reef Station at all times. Biological monitoring by the Palau International Coral Reef Center has shown that Helen Reef Atoll has the highest biomass of fish species across all sites the PICRC has monitored in Micronesia. Monitoring also shows good coral recovery, with signs of resilience to bleaching and climate change.

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January 2009

As of December 2008 the dispensary is still in use with no significant problems. The reserve remains under active protection with no significant changes.

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December 2007

Transportation for the building was arranged for August 2007. The building was completed in November 2007.

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July 2007

After her site visits in Micronesia, Seacology Senior Program Officer Karen Peterson reports that the medical dispensary, a prefabricated building from the Philippines, has been assembled at a warehouse in Koror. After awaiting transport for some time due to the remoteness of Hanatobi State, and the high cost of fuel, transportation for the clinic building has finally been arranged for the coming weeks. Helen Reef is under protection and rangers are fully trained and monitoring the area, but the challenges are great due to the reef’s close proximity to the Philippines and Indonesia.

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June 2007

Negotiation for additional funds for transportation of materials to the project site is still on-going since the grant does not cover the full cost of transportation. A request has been made to the Palau National Government for assistance in transporting materials to Hatohobei. The target date for completion of the construction work is late 2007. Seacology Senior Program Officer Karen Peterson and Field Representative Simon Ellis plan to conduct a site visit in early July 2007.

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January 2007

Construction materials were purchased in June 2006 and arrived in Palau in fall 2006. The Hatohobei State Governor, the building contractor and the Helen Reef Resource Management were scheduled to meet in late 2006 to draft agreements for the construction of the dispensary. They expect to complete the construction work by the end of February 2007.

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June 2006

Hatohobei State Governor and the Helen Reef project leaders worked together in early 2006 to submit all necessary documentation to Seacology to begin the project. Materials to construct the dispensary are scheduled to be purchased and shipped to the site by mid-2006 so that construction can begin.

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