Coral Heroes: The Micronesia Conservation Trust

Throughout the Coral Reef Conservation Program’s 20th Anniversary, we are highlighting Coral Heroes — individuals and organizations who have worked with the program and are making a real difference in coral reef conservation.

Corals in the Republic of Palau
Corals in the Republic of Palau. (NOAA / Mark Eakin)

Corals reefs in the Pacific Ocean are among the healthiest and most diverse in the world. Indigenous Pacific Islanders are intrinsically connected to coral reef ecosystems; the kumulipo, a Hawaiian origin story chant, states that the coral polyp was the first organism created. Many nations and regional and international organizations are working together to preserve these ecosystems.

The Micronesia Conservation Trust supports biodiversity conservation and sustainable development for the Micronesia region, specifically the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the U.S. territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). NOAA is a support partner of the organization. The Micronesia Conservation Trust is based in Pohnpei State, Micronesia and focuses on building partnerships, raising and managing funds, delivering grants, influencing policy, and providing conservation and financial expertise.

“For people of the ocean, coral reefs are an intrinsic part of our lives, providing livelihoods, food security and protection,” says William Kostka, director of the Micronesia Conservation Trust. “Pohnpeians believe that the no (mists), created as the waves hit the outer reefs, evaporate into the clouds and come down with the toahkoi (morning dew), spraying life into our first fruits, and thus the reason the offering of the first harvest is called nohpwei.”

Corals and snorkelers in Yap, an island in the Federated States of Micronesia
Corals (left) and snorkelers (right) in Yap, an island in the Federated States of Micronesia. (Yap Community Action Program)

The Micronesia Conservation Trust has four programs, one of which is a capacity building program. The Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Community—the main component of this program—is a long-term capacity building program for site-based and ecosystem-based management that is co-coordinated by the Micronesia Conservation Trust and the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.

“The Micronesia Conservation Trust is an ideal partner to co-coordinate capacity building for coral reef conservation, because they have a broad reach to numerous partners across the Micronesia Region,” says Michael Lameier, the NOAA co-coordinator for this program. “One of the highlights from a recent evaluation of the program was that the science produced from a number of different fisheries monitoring efforts has resulted in several changes in fisheries regulations.”

The Micronesia Challenge is among the many projects that the Micronesia Conservation Trust supports. Launched in 2006, its goal is to conserve at least 30 percent of near-shore marine resources in the region, like coral reefs, and 20 percent of land-based resources, by 2020. The nations and U.S. territories contributing to the Micronesia Challenge include the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Guam, and the CNMI. New targets are being developed for the next 10 years.

Coral reef conservation is a challenging endeavor, but one that the Micronesia Conservation Trust and other organizations are tackling head on for the future of all.

Follow the celebration on our Facebook and Twitter pages and the National Ocean Service Instagram page all year using the hashtag #NOAACoral20th.

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