The CNMI Division of Fish & Wildlife is expected to convene key stakeholders for the 2013 Marine Protected Areas Workshop scheduled today at the Hibiscus Hall of Fiesta Resort & Spa in Garapan.
The workshop, made possible by a congressional grant awarded in 2010 to the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, is open to the public and will highlight marine protected areas in the Northern Marianas and how federal agencies come into play in the management and administration of these MPAs.
“We want to give a presentation on where we're at on our MPAs, what our challenges and opportunities are, and what we need to do as we move forward,” DLNR Sec. Arnold Palacios said yesterday in a press briefing in Lower Base.
This will be the first time the agency will host a workshop on MPAs of this magnitude, Palacios said, as previous meetings and discussions were of smaller scale and did not bring in industry leaders and experts who could help educate and make the public understand the need to protect the islands' marine biodiversity.
He said the whole-day workshop will feature presentations by local and federal marine resource experts who will give an update and overview on the seven existing MPAs in the Commonwealth.
The event, Palacios added, will also serve as an opportunity for the CNMI's Fish & Wildlife team to learn from the successes and challenges of MPA enforcement and management from their counterparts in Guam and Palau.
Palacios noted that today's event is an “all-encompassing” workshop to be attended by government officials from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, resource agency envoys, fishermen, representatives of water sports and other tourism-related businesses whose involvement in the management of MPAs is vital.
He said that DFW has been assessing the effectiveness of protected marine habitats, given the livelihood and cultural impact of MPAs on island communities, all of which are to be discussed at the event.
DFW pointed out the need to have continuing discussions on MPAs, and the workshop is one way of reaching out to the public to inform them about the benefits of MPAs as backed by scientific research.
“We want the community to come out and attend the workshop because these are their resources,” said Palacios.
For more information, call 664-6000.