POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia (STPNS) -- The 4th Annual Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Cross-Site Visit took place on Parem Island from November 29th to 30th, 2007.  The two-day workshop held participants from the five community-based MPAs including Woaun Koapin Soamwoai (Kitti), Lenger (Nett), Mwahnd, Dehpehk/Takaieu (U) and Temwen (Madolenihmw).  Also participated at this annual meeting were the village chiefs of Metipw and Dolapwail (Madolenihmw) and community representatives from Mwudok (Kitti) to learn from the existing MPA network how to integrate traditional fishery management with contemporary marine conservation practices.  The 4th Annual MPA Cross-Site Visit was a co-sponsored event between the Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) Network, Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) and local partners.  The Cross-Site aims to raise awareness and increase communities, local and state government engagement in the conservation of biological diversity of Pohnpei?s marine environment and its MPAs.

The objectives of the 4th Annual workshop were to update lessons learned from the 3rd Annual MPA Cross-Site held in Madolenihmw; share and exchange progresses with Community Conservation Officers (CCO); to craft new community workplans toward MPA management; and to discuss the development of management plans for each of the respective MPA communities.  Since the past three years, CCOs have been successfully implementing Community Action Plans (CAP) developed during MPA cross-site visits.  This year, the CCOs focused their efforts toward the establishment of MPA management plans to help control and reduce the threats being identified by the recent marine and fishery assessments conducted in 2005 and 2006. Results from the assessments revealed unsustainable fishery management and poor land-use practice in Pohnpei affecting the coastal resources, for example, over fishing, sediment runoff and coral dredging.

The CCOs mapped out their individual MPAs during the workshop and clearly identified the surrounding natural resources and the threats affecting the resources.  The mapping exercise was a very enlightening process that allows the CCOs to exchange the cultural, economical and ecological values of their respective MPAs.  After mapping the resource, the CCOs carefully prioritized and selected two major threats that they can help manage and designed their own objectives on how to undertake the problems.  One of the most common threats being identified at the cross-site was poaching in MPAs due to the lack of enforcement.  As a result, the CCOs requested Pohnpei State Marine Conservation Unit (MCU) to conduct surveillance and MPA rules and regulations training to increase awareness within the communities as well as to utilize CCOs in MPA surveillance.

Finally, one of the key objectives for the cross-site visit was to discuss the development of MPA management plans.  CSP conducted a presentation on the importance of MPA management plans and reported some of the progresses with Nahtik MPA management plan.  Dehpehk/Takaieu, among the five communities, expressed their interests to initiate the development of their MPA management plan in 2008.

Every year, since 2004, CSP and partners work with the MPA network to carry out at least two MPA cross-site visits to engage the MPA communities and enhance partnership in marine resource management.  The MPA communities are looking forward to carry on their 2008 workplans and hope to report back to the rest of the MPA network during the 5th MPA Cross-Site Visit in 2008.