Welcome to One People One Reef!

Working together to keep the reefs, culture and people
of the Micronesian Outer Islands healthy.

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 talk extensively with people to better assess 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 the critical link between traditional knowledge and environmental sustainability – 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 – such as motor boats (rather than abandoning them which is not practical) to address problems in resource abundance and reef health.

With the support and direction of the local communities, and at their invitation, 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.

Our Achievements

This project is realizing unprecedented success!

The Communities in the Federated States of Micronesia autonomously govern over one million square miles of ocean in the Western Pacific – extending more than 1700 miles from west to east across one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth

They make their own decisions, community by community with their own councils.  They can implement management immediately if they need to, and each community can adopt a plan that is unique to their needs and environmental context.  In addition, they have a deep historical knowledge of management and traditions that have protected their ocean resources over time  They, not us, hold the key to successful management and conservation in this vast archipelago.

As of Spring 2014, 3 of the 4 islands of Ulithi Atoll have adopted new management planning. We plan to work with the 4th island this summer. This will create the first Atoll-wide management plan encompassing over 550 square kilometers. Ulithi is the fourth largest atoll in the world. Most importantly, communities are coming together to discuss these critical issues.

In February of 2014, along with our Ulithian colleagues, a team of us visited the Yap outer islands, traveling over 1000 nautical miles aboard the Yap State Ship Hapilmohol 1.  We visited with each community, all the way to Satawal, and surveyed the reefs.  The result of that trip was a historic gathering of outer islanders on the Atoll of Ulithi for a marine management and planning workshop in the summer of 2014.

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

-Sabino Sauchomal

Featured Post


Upcoming events!

We have a lot of exciting events coming up for those in the Santa Cruz, California and around the Bay Area.
Jan 28th

Project Leader, Nicole Crane, is January’s special speaker at the UC Santa Cruz Science on Tap series.

It is at 7 pm Jan 28 at the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz, California.More information can be found at the UC Santa Cruz Science on Tap website: https://sites.google.com/site/ucscwise/events/science-on-tap From the Science on Tap series website:

Nicole Crane will discuss her team’s unique approach to supporting ocean management in one of the most bio-diverse coral reef systems in the world-–the outer islands of Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia.   They are working closely with outer islanders to better understand traditional management and fishing, and using that knowledge to inform ecological data collection efforts.  What is learned from the reefs is integrated with what is learned from the people to better understand the problems, and help frame solutions.  Ultimately the management planning is up to the people of the outer islands – the science team helps inform them, and can assess the management impacts. Nicole will discuss the culture and traditions of the Outer Islanders, and present the results of the research they have been conducting there.  This unique Project has sparked a movement across the outer islands for people to take action for cultural and ecological stability.  Visit their website at onepeopleonereef.ucsc.edu

Project Leader, Nicole Crane will be giving a seminar at Moss Landing Marine Labs. It is open to all. More details will follow!
One People One Reef will be presenting at two conferences in the Bay area this spring:
Feb 12th in San Jose at the Citizen Science Association meetings, in association with AAAS.  here is a link:
March 29th in Oakland at the 2015 George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites

Recent Posts

All the hard work pays off!

Day 8: We had high hopes of a second deep dive today, but we’ve discovered more problems with the ROV circuitry and/or software. Voltages in several places aren’t what they should be.  While diagnosing and fixing those problems, we’re also trying to complete some unfinished features. For example, the ROV has a depth sensor, compass, […]

 Modern Science: Rekindling ancient ways.

he success of modern science in many areas has spread the notion that ever-advancing technology will enable us to solve all of our most pressing problems.  And yet, on the remote outer islands of Micronesia, it is the rekindling of age-old traditional wisdom that could hold the key to sustainable ocean management.  The people of the […]


Weathering a Typhoon on Falalop, Ulithi

7/2/2014 We had a tight schedule- between the workshop and the sampling we needed to do.  Then we  got the news  that there was a storm state warning and it would be on top of us fast. We were not to be stranded alone…The beautiful dive boat Damai (Indonesia) was in the area doing dives and […]

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