This year the beautiful atoll of Pakin became the newest member of Pohnpei’s Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) Network, which aims to increase resource management ownership. As a newcomer to the on-going MPA cross-site visits, which assemble Community Conservation Officers (CCOs) from all over Pohnpei to discuss challenges and share success stories on community-based marine resource management, Pakin’s communities took the helm in hosting the 8th Annual Cross-site Visit to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the greater LMMA Network. The three-day event took place on the splendid island of Nikahlap.
On the morning of July 13, 2011, a fleet of CCOs arrived in the lagoon, filled the sandy shores, and were met with the warmest welcoming ceremony in cross-site history. Accompanying the CCOs were partners and agencies working together to improve marine resource management, including the Division of Forestry and Conservation, Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the newly-established Division of Fish and Wildlife, CSP, and government representatives from Sokehs, U, and Madolenihmw municipalities.
The event began with a sakau ceremony and the construction of Pohnpei’s traditional uhmw (underground oven), followed by several thoughtful addresses and an overview of the LMMA Network by CSP. One CCO from Kitti shared an inspirational story about the great marine conservationist, Dakio Paul, and his heroic efforts to introduce the concept of MPAs to Pohnpei in the mid-1990s. The cross-site visit concluded with a presentation of 2012 MPA management action plans, which were endorsed by the MPA Executive Committee. CCOs and participating agencies departed with renewed confidence in the program and high expectations for the next MPA Cross-Site Visit in U’s Dehpehk/Takaieu Marine Protected Area.