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Conservation benefit: Five no-take marine zones, totaling 10,403 acres, for 10 years

Community benefit: Community resource center

Date Approved: 06.2019


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

The coral reefs around Oneisomw, a volcanic island in the westernmost part of Chuuk Lagoon, were once full of large fish (including several kinds of sharks and hundreds of species of other fish) and sea turtles. But now, because of overfishing, all that has changed. Fish are scarcer; sea cucumbers, sea snails, and giant clams have nearly vanished.

To reverse this trend, the people of Oneisomw will ban fishing in five areas of the lagoon, totaling more than 10,000 acres. These areas contain mangrove forests, seagrass, and reefs. Closing a reef, sometimes for years, is a traditional practice (mechen) in Chuuk.

Four of the five proposed no-take areas are visible from land, making enforcement relatively easy. Community members will patrol the fifth area. Once the legislature makes the reserve part of the Chuuk Protected Area Network, government staff will help with patrols.

The communities are working with the mayor, the Micronesia Conservation Trust, the Oneisomw Resource Management Committee, and Director of Chuuk Marine Resources. They have developed a fisheries management plan for areas outside the no-take area. Restrictions include gear bans, size restrictions and species bans, and limits on where and when commercial fishing can take place.

A Seacology grant will fund a community center on the main island of Weno, a 90-minute boat ride from Oneisomw. Women from Oneisomw go there to sell produce, and the center will give them a place to sell their wares. Teenagers also go to Weno for high school. The center will be a safe place for students to study, get tutoring, and wait for boats home.

Project Updates

June 2022

The no-take marine areas have been established and are being protected. Pandemic-related shortages of construction materials slowed the project, but they hope to finish by late summer.

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February 2022

For pandemic-related reasons, construction materials such as electrical wire, asphalt, and sand have not been readily available. However, the crew managed to complete the top floor and wiring with help from 15 community members. The floor, doors, and windows are not yet finished.

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June 2021

The land problem was solved by a community member who found another site close by that already had a partially built structure. After a few months’ more work, the resource center will occupy the lower floor.

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February 2021

The protected areas are established and under protection. Work on the community center has still not begun, however, because of uncertainty about the boundaries of the land on which it is to be built. Our project partners estimate that they may need another six months to get the maps they need to conduct an accurate survey of the land.

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June 2020

Work on the community center has not yet begun. Our project partner, Micronesia Conservation Trust, is working with the villagers to get the project moving, but MCT has its own COVID-19-related problems. Its finance manager went to an outer atoll to visit family in January and is now stuck there—without internet or electricity–because all inter-island travel has been suspended.

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