Coastal & Community Affairs

Division links MIMRA and local fisheries to the people

The Coastal Fisheries Division is MIMRA's link to the community in the Marshall Islands in numerous ways, from fisheries management initiatives and aquaculture development on the outer islands to managing fish market operations in Majuro and Kwajalein and conducting school and community awareness and capacity building programs.

Despite challenges of transportation and weather/sea conditions, Coastal Fisheries Division staff continued their services to communities through ecosystem-based fisheries management programs following the "Reimaantok process" (the National Conservation Area Plan that provides a roadmap for sustainable fisheries development produced in 2010).

 

"Despite challenges of transportation and weather/sea conditions, Coastal Fisheries Division staff continued their services to communities through ecosystem-based fisheries management programs."

HIGHLIGHT

In addition, the Coastal Fisheries Division focuses on aquaculture development, fisheries research and assessment, fisheries marketing and promotions, compliance and enforcement, and public awareness and capacity building.

Due to climate impacts, including the development of one of the region's strongest El Niños, in 2015 activities focused on Majuro Atoll.

Majuro faces numerous ecosystem challenges caused by human factors. On top of already evident climate change effects, including coral bleaching, the large population in the capital aggravates the fisheries situation, including causing deterioration of coral health, an increase in fish poisoning, seaweed/algae blooms, and overfishing.

In partnership with the Coastal Management Advisory Council (CMAC), Coastal Fisheries Division activities included incorporation of coral bleaching assessments to its dive assessment protocols, mapping of the seaweed outbreak in the downtown area, assisting Majuro communities drafting resource management plans, and consulting with the Marshall Islands Mayors Association and the Majuro Atoll Local Government Council on El Niño, fisheries management ordinaces, and promotion of fish seasons and temporary bans on herbivorous fish. During this period, the Nitijela (parliament) adopted RMI Protected Areas Network (PAN) legislation, which was developed and supported by MIMRA in collaboration with CMAC and other community partners.

The legislation is an important step to improving fisheries conservation and sustainability by establishing the legal framework for communities to effectively manage their natural resources.

With the legislation now adopted, there is the need for technical and financial capacity to be identified and streamlined for communities to access in order to implement PAN programs in their areas. Following the Reimaanlok process, MIMRA and the member organizations of CMAC are working together to draft regulations to implement the PAN legislation and further streamline the PAN process.

Educating the community about marine resources and regulations governing sustainable use of these marine resources is an important objective of the Education and Awareness section of MIMRA. Every year, the Ministry of Education organizes a week-long event in celebration of Education week. this year's theme was: "Kanne Lopal - Optimize education opportunities for all." The Education and Awareness section of MIMRA took part in this week-long event by visiting elementary schools on Majuro, talking to students in grades four-to-six about "over-fishing" and its consequences.

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MIMRA staff joined Education Week activities, visiting elementary schools in Majuro. This year, MIMRA spoke to students in grades four to six about "over-fishing" and its consequences.

HIGHLIGHT

"Aquaculture technical officers are working to establish a network to provide opportunities for the Micronesia sub-region to share knowledge and facilitate transfer of technology"

HIGHLIGHT

Giant Clam hatcheries on Arno and Likiep have been supported by the Coastal Fisheries. Division for many years. Both facilities, which were originally built in the 1990's, are scheduled for major maintenance in 2016.

With facilitation by the Coastal Fisheries Divsion, Likiep formed an Aquaculture Association during 2015. It is anticipated that the new Likiep Aquaculture Association will take on responsibility for the marketing side of the clam trade, which will allow MIMRA to focuse on producing seedlings to support the outer island hatcheries.

The need to place higher priority on aquaculture development in government policy and socio-economic development plans has been identified by many islands in the region.

Since concerns and needs are similar and expertise in aquaculture development is available within the sub-region, aquaculture technical officers are working to establish an aquaculture network to provide opportunities for the Micronesia sub-region to share knowledge and facilitate transfer of technology to increase investment from governments and donor agencies for aquaculture development.

With assistance from FAO through a regional Technical Coorperation Program, representatives from MIMRA joined with officials from other government agencies in the Micronesia area and relevant institutions to draw up the institutional structure and governance mechanism for a regional aquaculture organization. This included formulation of a work program, agreements and other administrative documents for the new network. It was agreed that the name is Micronesian Association for Sustainable Aquaculture (MASA). Countries that committed to being a member of MASA include Marshall Islands, Palau, Kiribati, Nauru and Federated States of Micronesia with participation of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. It is anticipated that this inter-governmental organization will be fully established in the coming year.

Partnerships and increasing financial resources available for Coastal Fisheries activities is important for the Division to meet its goals.

The Coastal component of the World Bank's technical assistance project known as Pacific Islands Regional Oceanscape Program (PROP), activities are being focused to address gaps in services currently provided and also increasing Coastal Fisheries Division engagement with outer island communities.

In 2015, MIMRA joined as one of the key Marshall Islands agencies involved with the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) national and regional projects. The IAEA is working with MIMRA and other agencies to build capacity for scientific analysis, marine and environmental sampling, and laboratory work. The two primary projects include "Harmful Algal Bloom Studies" in Asia and the Pacific and developing national capacity for ongoing "National Radioactivity Monitoring." In addition, IAEA worked with MIMRA to research ciguatera fish poisoning.

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The Coastal Fisheries Division manages two Fish Markets: the Outer Island Fish Market Center (OIFMC) in Uliga, Majuro and the Kwajalein Atoll Fish Market Center (KAFMC) in Ebeye, Kwajalein.

HIGHLIGHT

"In FY2015, the OIFMC in Majuro bought 109,875.7 pounds of fish from seven outer atolls, paying local fishers $129,307.35. Through visits to four atolls, the KAFMC bought $29,011.50 worth of fish."

HIGHLIGHT

The Coastal Fisheries Division continued its management of two Fish Markets for the urban centers: Outer Island Fish Market Center (OIFMC) in Majuro and the Kwajalein Atoll Fish Market Center (KAFMC). These provide thousands of pounds of fresh fish for the Majuro and Ebeye markets, and for Ebeye, in addition to fish, local produce from the outer islands is sold.

Fewer trips were made by MIMRA vessels to outer islands during 2015 due to a combination of unfavorable sea conditions and maintenance schedules of fish base boats and facilities.

Still, the amount of fish purchased injected an increase in revenue to fishers on the outer islands compared to FY2014. In FY2015, the OIFMC in Majuro bought 109,875.7 pounds of fish from seven outer atolls, paying local fishers $129,307.35. Through visits to four outer atolls, the KAFMC bought $29,011.50 worth of fish as well as $5,820.79 for local produce.

Since 1992, MIMRA has maintained a close partnership with the Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Foundation of Japan, which has supported numerous fisheries projects in the Marshall Islands, particularly focused on the outer islands.

In 2015, OFCF support focused on maintaining outboard engines for community fishing boats in outer islands, replacement and repair of KAFMC radio network system, and maintenance of MIMRA transport vessels and ice plants. OFCF also worked with MIMRA to address management needs for outer island fish bases.

During 2015, the Coastal Fisheries Division ensured that the five fish transport vessels - Jolok, Timur, Jebro, Lentanir and Laintok - received necessary maintenance and repairs. Staff also performed maintenance and repair work on the Wotje fish base ice machine, Arno fish base and Ine sub-fish base facilities, and OIFMC ice machines and other equipment.

The staff also carried out regular maintenance and servicing for MIMRA's eight vehicles.

Reimaanlok

Press Release

In support of the Micornesia Challenge, which came about in 2006 to effectively conserve at least 30% of nearshore marine resources and 20% of terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020, the Reimaanlok National Conservation Plan was developed in 2008 to provide a method for community based resource management plans. What makes this plan different from what was done in the past is that it does not attempt to identify specific sites for conservation areas, but rather, develops the principles, process and guidelines for the design, establishment and management of conservation areas that are fully owned, led and endorsed by local communities based on scientific evidence, cultural values and future needs. The plan was enhanced with the Reimaanlok Facilitators Field Guide created in 2012 to help implement the Reimaanlok process on a site by site basis. 

Majuro Atoll FAD Programme 2017

Press Release

The Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA), in collaboration with the Majuro Atoll Local Government, recently deployed five sets of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), or kajoke, on May 2017. The aim of this project is to compliment national food security, sea safety, sustainable fishing practices and to benefit small scale fishermen throughout Majuro Atoll.

Ciguatera Project

Research and Monitoring

Interviews, medical records and past research have documented that Ciguatera Fish Poisoning is a common occurrence in the Marshall Islands. Through community consultations and interviews, fish species and toxic areas have been identified but not to the extent of toxicity level and its cause. Medical records document number of admitted patients and symptoms only. In the past few years, Community members have expressed grief concerns regarding the prevalent rates of ciguatera fish poisoning in their atolls to MIMRA. With this being said, the Coastal Fisheries team listed Ciguatera Monitoring as a priority project.

Lessons learned at Arno, likiep clam farm facilities

Hatcheries

The Coastal Fisheries Division performed extensive rehabilitation on two of its hatcheries so that they were returned to full operation. Raceway tanks were repaired, saltwater pupms installed, and a total of four sessions of successful  artificial spawning of Tridacna Maxima have been carried out with production ranging from five-to-ten million fertilized eggs per tank.

Partnership finds big issues

Sewage Outfall

MIMRA partnered with the College of the Marshall Islands and the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant program to conduct an underwater assessment of the condition of Majuro's sewage outfall and wastewater line and what impact it is having on the marine environment in the area.

Outer island Resource Management

Resource Management

Five outer island projects were funded through the Outer Islands Resource Management Fund. Projects were funded in the amount of $20,000 each for Ailuk, Namdrik, Namu, Arno and Rongelap. The projects range from fish farming in lagoon cages to pearl farming and lagoon management

Controlling the algal blooms

Seaweed outbreaks

For more that 10 years, the main sewage pipeline on Majuro Atoll has been slowly deteriorating causing untreated sewage onto coastal reegs. Eutrophication is an aquatic environment's natural reaction to the excessive addition of nutrients.

Agency assists in three key areas

Support from IAEA

Work in 2015 with the International Atomic Energy Agency focused on three areas                                                                                                    

Multi-nation Project

Support from IAEA

MONITORING IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE: MIMRA staff take samples from fish for laboratory testing as part of five nation ilot project monitoring vulnerability of coastal fisheries to climate change         

Increasing the number of protected areas

Reimaanlok

MIMRA, with support from its partners in the Coasta management Advisory Council (CMAC), provides technical assistance to local governments and communities for establishing protected areas by conducting resource assessment surveys, providing recommendations on the designation of protected areas, and facilitating the development of management plans for sustainable fisheries development as part of the eight-step Reimaanlok process.

CMAC shares its knowledge base

Advisory Council

The Coastal Management Advisory Council (CMAC) was formed in 2000 to facilitate cooperation among organizations involved in both marine and terrestrial resource management.

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