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    Tuesday, September 17, 2019-6:44:46P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Reef Tips | Our Ocean, Our Future

Be part of the solution, not the pollution

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Coral reefs in the CNMI are threatened by land based sources of pollution. Nonpoint source pollution is a leading cause of coral reef degradation in the CNMI. Water quality is impacted by urban runoff, failing sewage systems, unpaved roads, farms, land clearing, and development. Stormwater that drains to the ocean carries sediment and excess nutrients, which smother coral and cause algal blooms, impacting reef health, like the Great Barrier Reef, which has been experiencing for decades a deterioration in their ecosystem due to land based pollution.

 In recent years more than half of Saipan’s shoreline has been marked “red flag” or unsafe to swim in on a chronic basis. Each of the sites has measured high in the bacteria level more often. As a 2019 DCRM Coral Reef Initiative Intern, I conducted field studies with the Water Quality Monitoring and Nonpoint Source Pollution Team. We would go out with sample bottles and collect water samples from sites around the island and Managah that would be brought to the DEQ Laboratory to be tested. The results are able to inform the public whether the location sampled is red (not safe to swim) or green flag (safe to swim). In addition, I had the opportunity to do a stream assessment at Dougas stream located in Tanapag where we collected data on the stream conditions such as the embeddedness of the rocks, the flora and fauna, and if any contaminants and pollutants were present.

Initiatives like the Garapan Clean Water Campaign encourages businesses and the community to prevent land based pollution from reaching the lagoon. I assisted in getting up to 13 businesses to participate in an Ocean Friendly Property Pledge, which is both a resource guide and good way for businesses to advertise their best practices. I helped to raise awareness within the community about the issues in the environment I conducted door to door outreach with Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance looking for common environmental violations in the area. I also had the opportunity to be involved in the Garapan Storm Drain clean up where I tracked the amount of sediment they collected during the clean out. They removed a total of 20-30 cubic yards of sediment. 

 To expand on these initiatives, I also placed eco cards next to ocean friendly products at all the major stores on the island in an effort to promote ocean friendly practices.  Another highlight of this internship was the opportunity to travel to Tinian to help people of the island understand how important their watershed is and ways they can help protect it. Through all the work experience, I have gained so much knowledge on how much we have an impact on our environment, how storm water pollution affects our nearshore waters and coral reef.

It has shown me that the issue must be prevented and has inspired me to help others to do the same. The skills I have learned and will take with me after the internship is to take the initiative on protecting our environment by preventing these land based pollution from entering our ocean. My time as an intern for DCRM and DEQ has been a great adventure and I don't regret a minute of it.

Frederieke J. Kroon, Peter Britta, Schaffelke, Stuart Whitten (2016) Towards protecting the Great Barrier Reef from Land Based Pollution Global Change Biology (Volume 22, Issue 6) [accessed August 15, 2019] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.13262