Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 16 Dec 2017 12am

     

     

     

     

     

    Saturday, December 16, 2017-7:52:09A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Protecting our precious resources: Highlighting the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s comprehensive conservation strategy

(Office of the CNMI Governor) — “Conservation today is challenging,” says Division of Fish and Wildlife conservation planner Jill Liske-Clark, “given the current and potential future impacts of invasive species, climate change, and other threats to our resources.”

According to Liske-Clark, the lands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands support an incredible array of wildlife species that are found nowhere else in the world.

“Our waters contain some of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the United States. We truly live in a special place, with tremendous fish and wildlife resources that we want to conserve for this and future generations,” she said.

In terms of protecting our island’s precious resources; maintaining fish and wildlife populations in sufficient abundance and distribution is one of the division’s top guiding principles.

Implementing strategies to sustain harvesting of fish and gaming resources, promoting sustainable ecotourism and recreational opportunities for visitors and residents, the perpetuation of traditional cultural practices, delisting current federally threatened and endangered species and the perpetuation of traditional cultural practices, she shares, are some of the most notable highlights of the division.

Liske-Clark expresses that conservation is an ongoing process that has required and continues to require careful consideration of priorities and accomplishments.

This includes, she says, “protecting and managing habitats to meet the needs of fish and wildlife population and cultivating conservation commitment to ensure we have the necessary political, social, technical, and financial support to meet our populations and habitat goals across all islands.”

Notable successes over the last few years in the division included the conservation of the wedge-tailed shearwater nesting habitat in Managaha.

“In 2014, 118 active nests successfully hatched 86 young, an all-time high since the shearwater program began just over ten years ago,” she said, adding that brown tree snake interdiction efforts have been successful as no established brown tree snake population exists on the islands.

This was further followed by the “translocation of golden white-eyes, bridles white-eyes, rufous fantails, Marianas fruit doves, and Tinian monarchs to establish new populations in the Northern Islands to reduce the likelihood of extinction,” she says.

With 14 islands under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands including offshore banks, reefs and submerged lands extending to three geographical miles from coastal areas, the designation of conservation areas, marine protected areas and national monuments aid in the continued conservation efforts of lands and waters.

Liske-Clark who developed the division’s Wildlife Action Plan or WAP for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for years 2015 to 2025 noted that in December 2015, DFW completed a nearly two-year project to revise and update the CNMI Wildlife Action Plan which was last completed in 2005.

The Wildlife Action Plan, she says, “provides a broad vision for conservation in the CNMI over the next ten years. The plan describes objectives for priority species, and outlines conservation actions needed. While the Wildlife Action Plan is a CNMI-wide plan reflecting broad input from stakeholders and the public, the plan will be used heavily by DFW as we develop agency-specific management plans.”

The WAP is still pending approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services which is expected in April.

The WAP notes that suggested actions for the continued success of conservation efforts is environmental education and outreach to public schools and increased enforcement capacity which was a suggested result of public hearings for an improved and more realistic WAP produced through a process of initiating discussions with agencies and organizations to facilitate and coordinate roles to achieve the goals of the upcoming years.

Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres, who is currently in Washington DC attending a series of meetings pertaining to the Commonwealth, advocated for the continued protection of the island’s natural resources.

“I recognize and acknowledge the partnerships and the hard work of governmental organizations and private agencies in protecting the island’s resources which are essential to the island’s economy amidst many economic setbacks,” he said.

The governor in a speech to the attendees of the 35th annual meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force in D.C. said, “Just as coral reefs are very important to our economy, our communities and our way of life, it is my obligation to continue in this path to protect our resources for the benefit of present and future generations.”

Torres reiterated the strengthened capacity of local conservation government and non-governmental organizations through strategic planning, board development, and training in financial management to further enable conservation work and the establishing of the socioeconomic protocol.

For more information on the Division of Fish and Wildlife under the Department of Land and Natural Resources, log onto www.cnmi-dfw.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/cnmidfw/.