NRAS Conservation - Natural Resources Assessments Surveys


Projects 2006-2007

There have been five independent projects running in 2006: Northern atoll expeditions - three projects, and a Coral Reef and Sharks exhibit.

1. Parks for Sharks: Integrating Shark Conservation in the Marshall Islands with national efforts in coral reef conservation in Ailuk Atoll.

Baseline surveys will be run at Ailuk atoll, after a special request put forward by the local population and by MIMRA. Assessments on shark abundance and distribution will be coupled to the corals, fish, target invertebrates and seaweeds assessments. Reef sharks have been increasingly fished by foreign fishing fleets in RMI. Locals and tourist divers have reported an abrupt decline in once bountiful shark numbers. Sharks were observed to have declined at Rongelap, Jaluit and Bikini Atolls between the 2002 and 2003. Assessing populations of reef sharks is one of our priorities in 2006, in order to address a major information gap for sustainable management. Recommendations for 4 conservations sites were part of the NRAS final report. The local Ook fishermen council approved all of them, on top of total ban of shark and Napoleon wrasses fishing. 

Project 2 and 3. The Northern Atoll trip to Rongelap and Rongerik Atolls is scheduled from 8 – 28th June 2006. The Northern Atolls Trip is a combination of two separately funded projects. 2. funded by the bp-conservation grant, the resource assessment expedition to Rongerik Atoll aims to do a baseline survey of rare fishes and corals and overall reef status. 

Also, see article: Ailuk focuses on marine resources (1 MB).

Ailuk awareness

June 3rd lecture

June 2nd 


1. Tacoma Zoo and Aquarium

2. Department of the Interior

3. MIMRA Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority

4. The Winifred Violet Scott Estate

2. Coral reefs and Sharks: a travelling educational exhibit

This exhibit visited two different atolls in the country (Majuro and Ailuk) and was presented in Marshallese language. 

PDF of mangroves poster (4 MB).

PDF of turtles poster (4 MB).



Tacoma Zoo and Aquarium

3. Monitoring the effects of human resettlement on the pristine coral reefs at Rongelap Atoll.

Funded by a grant of the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program to the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI), this project aimed to establish, in partnership with local people, a long-term monitoring project at Rongelap Island, where most impacts from human settlement are likely to occur.

The preliminary aims were 

1) to compile a baseline dataset of the status of coral reefs at Rongelap Atoll and 

2) to train local participants in coral reef survey techniques to facilitate future monitoring efforts. 

The monitoring programme was designed using globally accepted survey techniques that are highly replicable and suitable for implementation by trained locals. Rongelap’s reefs have not been subjected to human impacts for the past 50 years because the human population was evacuated after radioactive fallout from nearby atomic tests. The baseline monitoring dataset assembled in this project describes the pristine reefs of Rongelap Atoll prior to the forthcoming resettlement. Marine reserves are intended to be established around the atoll, hence survey sites were established inside and outside reserves to monitor the long-term effects of humans and the success of reef protection measures. Participants from both Rongelap Island and the local management agency, MIMRA, were actively involved in this project and with the guidance of international coral reef experts they gained hands on experience in long-term coral reef monitoring. 


NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

CMI College of the Marshall Islands

MIMRA Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority

4. Community based marine conservation actions in the atoll of Ailuk, Marshall Islands:

Also see article in March 2008 SPC Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin: Successful community engagement in resource management efforts on Ailuk Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands Silvia Pinca and Frankie Harriss (2008).

Implementation of two marine sanctuaries through community decision making, capacity building, vocational training, awareness and education.

This project contributes to on-going national and community-based marine conservation efforts and aims to achieve biodiversity conservation in Ailuk atoll through:

* the establishment of 4 integral conservation sites

* the institution of an educational, awareness and information centre

Edu center

Ook Edu center

* training in coral farming and transplantation for enhancement of coral population in the lagoon and for export of commercially interesting fragments

Simon at meeting

Coral cage

* a mangrove biodiversity survey and population study

Mangrove workshop

mangrove project

mangrove project

PDF of Report Ellison 2007 (1 MB).

* a shoreline erosion mitigation action through re-plantation of mangroves

* workshops on mangrove monitoring for environmental changes


Regional Natural Heritage Programme (RNHP)

MIMRA Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority

5. Ailuk - Seacology

Ailuk Atoll community obtained a $32,500 grant to upgrade their airport terminal: Ailuk Seacology Article (800 kB).

In return of creating two conservation sites, the grant was donated by California-based NGO Seacology, which offers support for the protection of island environments and cultures throughout the world, with several projects currently running in other Micronesian islands. 

After the research conducted in 2006, NRAS has been coordinating with the Ailuk Ook Fisheries Committee and the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) over the past year to develop the fisheries management plan.

Five conservation sites were chosen based on traditional knowledge and the results of underwater surveys conducted by NRAS in May and June, 2006. Two if these sites chosen for conservation by the fisheries committee and the local government are Eneja (Enije Island), a known turtle nesting area, and To-eje (Enije channel), which is abundant withmega-fauna. The sites involve 215 acres, which will be conserved for 10 years in exchange for the $32,500. The airport terminal was a skeleton of a building and it was then rebuilt thanks to this last grant, in perfect timing with the deadline of this project. This was earmarked by Seacology as one of the few successes achieving the goals as foreseen in the proposal. Their excitement with the accomplishment is stimulating this NGO to deliver more grants to the community!

Please see our publications page for project reports.

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