Interior Provides $1 Million in Grants for Natural and Cultural Resource Protection in the Pacific

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 19, 2017) – Interior Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Nikolao Pula has made available $1,003,787 for natural and cultural resource protection in the U.S. Insular Areas.  The funds will support a wide variety of initiatives which include watershed management, GIS skills development, radar monitoring and marine protected areas surveillance, youth education in conservation management, and environmental law-enforcement training.  These projects support sustainable use of natural and cultural resources in the U.S. territories and freely associated states.

“People in the islands depend on the strength and viability of their natural resources for sustenance, and physical and socio-economic well-being,” said Pula. “Even small amounts of funding can yield great impacts, and this year’s recipients successfully demonstrate the wide range of areas where assistance is needed.”

The FY2017 natural and cultural resource projects, listed by island area, follow:

CHUUK, MICRONESIA

The Nature Conservancy Micronesia will receive $93,600 to pilot a community based fisheries management program on Oneisomw Island in the Chuuk Lagoon and address a decline in fisheries due to overfishing and damage of coral reef habitats.  Chuuk has only 2% of its marine resources designated as no-take areas, the lowest among the four states in the Federated States of Micronesia.  Chuuk has suffered from challenges such as overfishing, land-based pollution, the lack of a statewide approach to management, and a lack of capacity for resource planning.  This project is in line with the Micronesia Challenge, a shared commitment by the chief executives of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau to effectively conserve at least 30% of near-shore marine and 20% of terrestrial resources across the Micronesia region by 2020, and shared recognition that the future of the islands depends on the viability of their marine and terrestrial environments.

MICRONESIA REGION INCLUDING GUAM, CNMI, PALAU, THE MARSHALL ISLANDS, AND MICRONESIA

The Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) will receive $127,400 to fund the participation of one conservation officer from each of the Micronesian island jurisdictions in the Micronesia Challenge to participate in the first course scheduled for 2017 at the Marine -Terrestrial Conservation Enforcement Academy at the Guam Community College (GCC).  Through this MCT-GCC collaboration conservation officers across the region will be trained in safety procedures and how to approach and apprehend alleged violators as well as prepare reports that can stand up in court.  The Micronesia Conservation Trust, a financial mechanism of the Micronesia Challenge, is a regional organization supporting biodiversity conservation and related sustainable development for the people of Micronesia in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the U.S. Territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

All funding for cultural and natural resources protection and management was provided under what was formerly called the Coral Reef Initiative and is available under CFDA# 15.875 at https://www.grants.gov/. All four U.S. territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as well as the three freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are eligible to apply.

Discretionary funding provided by the Office of Insular Affairs in the Department of the Interior is appropriated annually by the U.S. Congress to help address needs in the U.S. Insular Areas.