Striking a sustainable balance

When researchers set out to balance conservation efforts with local economic tradition in Papua, New Guinea, they turned to The DigitalGlobe Foundation for assistance

Hawaii’s Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is recognized throughout the world for its scientific research and educational programs. The museum’s Kamiali Initiative Project is designed to develop a sustainable cycle of environmental conservation, scientific research and economic development in the coastal community of Kamiali, Papua, New Guinea.

Kamiali’s most challenging conservation issues center on its coral reefs. Fish are the primary source of dietary protein for this coastal village, and its coral reefs are preferred fishing sites. Bishop Museum researchers studied these exploited reef fish populations with the goal of promoting conservation practices that strike a balance between protecting the area’s marine resources and the economic need for subsistence fishing.

The high-resolution satellite imagery, provided by the DigitalGlobe Foundation, enabled Bishop Museum researchers to identify live coral areas in Kamiali waters, pinpoint the habitats targeted by fishers and estimate fish and coral production. This information also was made available to other marine researchers interested in Kamiali’s coral reefs

Aided by the satellite imagery, the researchers were able to develop guidelines that let subsistence fishers target only mature fish, enabling younger fish to grow and reproduce. This program promotes larger fish populations while allowing the local fishers to maintain their current harvest levels. By bringing science directly to the people and working in partnership with the community, the Kamiali Initiative Project demonstrates how biodiversity conservation can be accomplished in harmony with local economic development.

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