The villages of Aparahk, Dolopwail, Lukop, Mesihou, and Metipw in Pohnpei are traditional fishing communities. For more than 1,000 years, their leaders have served as master fishermen and guardians of the nearby marine resources. Recently, the fishers in these communities have dependably supplied reef fish to local markets in the main town, Kolonia.
These five communities share a connection with the adjacent Nanwap reef system. Nanwap is widely considered the most biologically diverse and best preserved spawning and aggregation site for a range of fish species on the main island of Pohnpei, and is ranked as an Area of Biological Significance. But the communities are seeing an alarming decline of their once-abundant marine resources and coral reef systems. In response, many fishers have turned to alternative livelihoods, such as coral and sponge farming.
The communities have also recognized the importance of establishing a protected area to conserve fish stocks and to reduce pressure on their coral reefs. They will establish a 304-hectare (752-acre) marine protected area as a no-take zone for at least 10 years.
In return, Seacology is providing funds to the Conservation Society of Pohnpei for a community center, which will be built at the Lukop Elementary School groups. It will host youth gatherings, conservation conferences, and community meetings. Visiting advisors to the marine area will also be able to stay there.