CSP continues its aim in promoting alternative economic development with MPA communities. CSP completed yet another great year in 2006, in close partnership with the Marine Environmental Research Institute of Pohnpei (MERIP), through working with community members in establishing and maintaining sponge farms. A farmer’s mini cross-site visit was hosted by MERIP in 2006 to update farmers on the status of sponge farming in Pohnpei, to exchange lessons learned, to share the importance of practicing environment-friendly aquaculture integrating with the importance of MPAs and to establish a network of farmers to help enhance the practice of compatible economic development in Pohnpei. Currently, there are 13 farmers with 19 sponge farms around Pohnpei. Most of these farmers are connected to Pohnpei’s MPA Network, which includes MPA communities of Enipein, Lenger, Parem, Mwahnd, Dehpehk/Takaieu and Namwen Na. CSP will aim to help MERIP to improve sustainable economic development. In addition to sponge farms, MERIP and CSP have pioneered the culturing of soft corals. Only a few soft coral farms have been initiated with plans to expand throughout MPA communities around Pohnpei.
The markets we have developed include local hotels and restaurants, U.S. private interests in Washington D.C., the Community Conservation Network in Hawaii, The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, and Swatch supporting conservation work located in Tokyo Japan. The sponges can be purchased in the CSP office or on-line at email@example.com.