Fishing in Micronesia: Communities chose to close part of their fisheries to ensure there will be fish for the future. © Simon Lorenz

Stories in the Pacific Islands

Community Unites for Fisheries in Oneisomw, Chuuk

Oneisomw is one of nine islands within the Faichuuk region of the Chuuk State—one of the four states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia.

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To protect land and water, The Nature Conservancy works directly with the land and water owners—the communities who rely on the resources in their own backyards. In Micronesia and other Pacific Islands, the need for conservation is urgent, because people are already experiencing the impacts of climate change and development.

TNC works closely with community members using the best available science and planning tools to enhance understanding of natural resources and facilitate effective management from “ridges to reefs.”

Around 1,200 Micronesians call this volcanic island home. As one can imagine with an island, the health and well-being of its people are directly linked to the health of its marine ecosystems.

In recent decades, coral reefs and fish populations have been seriously damaged due to natural disasters and unsustainable fishing practices. Reefs in Chuuk State have been hurt by natural disturbances like Typhoon Mayask and the invasive Crown-of-Thorns starfish that prey on live coral. The likelihood of such disturbances only increases with a changing climate.

Climate change is affecting us all. Won’t you help us continue to implement and increase emphasis on readily available, cost-effective natural climate solutions?

There is, however, tangible hope. A recently completed eight-year collaborative study has shown that healthy fish populations greatly increase a coral reef’s ability to bounce back. We have been working alongside the communities of Oneisomw since 2012 to help them manage their reef fisheries more sustainably, increase community resilience, and adapt to the impacts of climate change and other local stressors.

A local Resource Management Committee was recently formed with support from TNC, University of Guamand, and the Chuuk Conservation Society. The committee has since created a comprehensive fisheries management plan—including five no-take zones, a 10-year ban on fishing of the Napoleon wrasse and bumphead parrot fish, net size restrictions and a ban on night-time spearfishing and commercial fishing in nearshore waters.

Looking forward, the committee is working to get these regulations in place and raise awareness among the communities of Oneisomw.