Ant Atoll is a large, stunning coral reef atoll that is as an important refuge for biodiversity in Micronesia. In 2008, UNESCO recognized Ant Atoll as a World Biosphere Reserve. The atoll is uninhabited, with the exception of one small settlement. Tourists come to dive and snorkel, and colonies of seabirds nest there. Ant Atoll has the only healthy population of giant clams in the area, and the channel entrance to Ant’s lagoon is one of the few places in the Pohnpei area with impressive aggregations of grey reef sharks and barracuda. In a recent environmental assessment, many fish species were found only at Ant; a partial list includes porcupine ray, giant grouper, cardinalfish, dogtooth tuna, triggerfish, and starry puffer. There are also relatively high numbers of Napoleon wrasse, which is increasingly threatened across the Indo-Pacific. The endangered green turtle and critically endangered hawksbill turtle frequent the atoll.
Pending legislation would put 3,395 hectares (8,388 acres) around the atoll under permanent legal protection. Now, however, overfishing threatens the area. As Pohnpei’s own fisheries resources decrease, fishers are poaching in Ant Atoll’s marine protected areas. And because they must travel farther to fish, they must take large catches to pay for their increased fuel costs.
Seacology is granting the Conservation Society of Pohnpei funds to set up a solar power system for the ranger station on the atoll. The system will provide power to desalinate water for the rangers, who are key to stopping poachers.