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Conservation benefit: 1,468-acre marine and mangrove reserve, as a no-take area in perpetuity

Community benefit: Meeting house and recreational huts

Date Approved: 02.2015

Mangroves

This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

Ocean

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

On Kosrae Island, clean ocean water feeds a fast-flowing channel between the airport runway and extensive mangrove forests. This creates a unique marine habitat that is home to many species of coral, including one species found nowhere else. This proposed marine reserve is also home to endangered species of fish, such as the bumphead parrotfish, and ten species of mangrove tree. The area is very accessible, which makes it vulnerable to overfishing but also allows people to enjoy its natural beauty.

In 2005, the Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organization (KCSO) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified the proposed reserve as an area of biological significance. The same study identified threats to the area, including overfishing, dredging, pollution, and mangrove clearing for coastal development. The community declared the Tafunsak Marine Protected Area (TMPA) in 2011 and is working to make the area permanently protected by law. In the meantime, the TMPA has an enforcement officer and a coral and fish monitoring program. Data have shown increases in fish size and biomass since the protected area was established.

Seacology is granting the people of Tafunsak funds to construct a meeting house and recreational huts next to the the 1,468-acre (594-hectare) marine and mangrove protected area. Residents will use these structures to enjoy the protected area and also for education and surveillance.

Project Updates

January 2018

This project is now complete. The meeting house and recreational huts were dedicated in September 2017 at a ceremony attended by community members and by state and local government representatives. Our nonprofit partner, the Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organization, conducted environmental awareness and outreach programs, including taking schoolchildren on field trips to the Tafunsak MPA. Finally, after years of advocacy from KCSO, in November 21017, the Tafunsak Marine Protected Area became a state-recognized protected area.

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May 2017

Construction of the meeting house has continued slowly; the walls and ceiling are complete, and electrical work is almost done. The marine and mangrove areas remain under protection.

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January 2017

The huts have been built, and the meeting house is under construction. It has been difficult to get construction supplies (currently, aggregate is unavailable), causing some delay. The marine and mangrove areas are being protected, and the Tafunsak Marine Protected Area (TMPA) plan has been finalized and is with the Kosrae State Legislature.

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May 2016

Construction of the meeting house continues, with some delay because not all necessary supplies are available at local hardware stores The marine and mangrove area remains under protection. The Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organization has met with the Kosrae Island Resource Management Authority (KIRMA) and the Kosrae legislature to discuss including the Tafunsak Marine Protected Area (TMPA) into the larger protected area. The legislature did not approve the draft TMPA when it was first submitted, but KIRMA will re-submit it during the next session.

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January 2016

The huts have been completed, and construction has begun on the meeting house. The area remains under protection. The community continues to pursue the goal of getting the Tafunsak MPA permanently protected by law. A management plan has been finalized, and a request for inclusion has officially been submitted to the Kosrae legislature.

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May 2015

According to Field Representative Simon Ellis, the mayor of Tafunsak has been working with a local construction company on the design for the meeting house. Initial designs seemed too expensive, so the community is reevaluating the designs. The area remains under protection, and a coral and fish monitoring was completed around the Okat MPA outer reef in March 2015.

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