The small community of Walung perches on the coast of Kosrae, a beautiful tropical island covered with densely forested hills. Kosrae is in the mid-Pacific, just north of the equator and roughly halfway between Hawaii and Guam.
The Walung community recently created two community-managed marine protected areas. One is the 118-acre Sikirlacp-to-Sacksro MPA, which is designed to protect and manage finfish, mangrove trees, and crabs. The second is the Walung Clam Sanctuary, which is specifically set aside for the management of giant clams. These amazing creatures can grow to be almost four feet long, weigh more than 400 pounds, and live for more than a century.
The community is keen to protect these areas because most people there depend on fishing for income and subsistence. They have seen their catches decrease, and ongoing monitoring shows that both the numbers of fish and their average size have been declining.
The community’s management plan for the new protected areas prohibits harvesting finfish, mangrove trees, or mangrove crabs in the Sikirlacp-to-Sacksro MPA and bans taking giant clams in the Walung clam sanctuary (also called Srukames Reef). Walung has submitted the management plan to the Kosrae state government for its review and approval. When the plan is approved, the two areas will be legally protected as part of the Kosrae Protected Areas System. Every five years, the community will reevaluate the management plan.
Our project partner is the Kosrae Conservation & Safety Organization, which helped the community draft the management plan.
The Walung community will use a Seacology grant to renovate the Walung Youth Center, which is in very poor condition. The center is very close to the elementary school and is used for PTA and other school-related meetings. It is also the main venue for community meetings and events.