Welcome to One People One Reef!

We are a group of communities and scientists working together to keep the reefs, culture and people of the Micronesian Outer Islands healthy.

Please note our IndieGogo campaign is now closed, but you can still make a donation to support our work by going here.

One People One Reef is about working with outer island communities to bring traditions and modern science together in a revolutionary approach to sustainable ocean management.

Micronesian Outer islanders from the remote atolls of the Yap outer islands in the western Pacific have sustainably managed their oceans for centuries, even millennia. Their culture, traditions and livelihoods  are  intimately linked to the reefs that surround their islands. However, their future is threatened by rapid environmental and cultural change.

In 2010, they recognized a decline in fish populations, and the need to address that. The people realized that their health, their communities, and their reefs were experiencing rapid change. They asked for help to learn more about how to manage a sustainable food supply from their oceans in the face of these changes, a critical issue for their present and future wellbeing.  We are a team of scientists who came together to respond to the outer islanders call for assistance. Our response was a revolutionary approach that lets communities lead through traditional management backed by modern science.

Our Approach

We are a team of community members and scientists working together in an attempt to understand the nature of fish and reef declines (including changes in fishing practices), historical context, and the role that traditions – and the loss of them – may play.

We understand that the critical link between traditional knowledge and environmental sustainability is the key to effective ocean management.

We conduct extensive ecological surveys of the reefs to better understand the effects that fishing and other anthropogenic impacts are having, and we share what we find with the communities.

We discuss specific findings, such as the link between parrotfish declines, night spearfishing, and algal overgrowth on reefs and how traditional management could address this.

We are encouraging a reconnection to traditional ways without ignoring modern influences like motor boats (rather than abandoning them which is not practical) as a method to address problems in resource abundance and reef health.

We are implementing a unique approach to advance adaptive management and conservation in Micronesian outer islands.

The program is managed and directed by the community.  Community members are trained to continue collecting data, and the science team remains as an advisory body and helps to analyze data and provide guidance.

For it is true that the Ocean unites us and brings us together but the Reef sustains us in so many ways.

-Sabino Sauchomal