Coral Reef NOAA
May 28, 2016  

Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Community

What is the Pacific Islands Marine Protected Area Community?

American Samoa
The Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Community brings MPA managers together to improve the effectivenss of MPAs in the Pacific.

The Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Community (PIMPAC) is a collaboration of marine protected area (MPA) managers, non-governmental organizations, local communities, federal, state, and territorial agencies, and other stakeholders working together to collectively enhance the effective use and management of MPAs in the U.S. Pacific Islands and Freely Associated States.  Specifically, PIMPAC aims to build partnerships among Pacific Island MPA practitioners and to bring support to the region in order to strengthen MPA planning, management, and evaluation efforts and conserving the marine resources of the Pacific Islands.


History of PIMPAC

PIMPAC grew out of an August 2005 workshop of over 45 marine protected area (MPA) leaders from around the Pacific Islands.  The workshop, held in Tumon, Guam and co-hosted by NOAA and the University of Guam, brought together governmental and non-governmental representatives from the U.S. Pacific Islands, Freely Associated States of the Pacific, and Fiji to discuss the strengths and challenges of MPAs in the Pacific Islands. 

The Pacific Islands have a long history of traditional management approaches for marine resources—many of which may provide solutions to today’s management challenges.  However, the MPAs in the Pacific Islands have their own unique set of challenges which have inhibited them from being as effective as possible. 


Despite the wealth of knowledge the Pacific Islands’ traditional approaches can offer, MPA managers in the Pacific must balance building on these traditional approaches while adapting to modern technology and practices.  To play a successful role in MPA management, traditional and local approaches must be actively fostered, developed, and integrated into current MPA systems.

In addition, MPA managers in the Pacific are often very isolated from one another due to the great distances between islands. The geographical distance makes it very difficult for them to share knowledge and lessons learned with each other.  Also, because the Pacific Islands are small, they have limited human and financial resources to work with.

To address these challenges, the meeting participants shared a common vision for a regional coordination network that would strengthen their individual and collective MPA efforts.  The group committed to work together in an evolving regional Pacific Islands MPA Community (PIMPAC) to overcome these barriers.  Based on the workshop outcomes, a work plan was developed to direct the first year activities/priority actions and develop a list of priority actions to guide PIMPAC over the next year.  Upon completion of the first years activities, a three year strategic plan was developed to guide PIMPAC activities from 2007 – 2009.



The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) has played an integral role in establishing PIMPAC.  OCRM's effort based out of NOAA’s Pacific Services Center in Hawaii, along with the Micronesia Conservation Trust in Pohnpei jointly coordinate activities identified in PIMPAC’s strategic plan to move the initiative forward. 

For additional information contact Michael Lameier.


Priorities and Activities

During PIMPAC’s inaugural meeting in August 2005, working groups identified the following priorities to improve the effectiveness of Pacific Island marine protected areas (MPAs):

American Samoa
Community members practice traditional opelu fishing activity in Miloli'i, Hawaii.

  • Supporting the expressed needs of MPA sites, networks and programs through: focused skill-building; on-the-job or intermittent trainings, including those that can result in recognized degrees and certifications; facilitating access to experts; and promoting staff exchanges.
  • Building partnerships with academic and other institutions to strengthen long-term, locally-based MPA management and program capacity in the Pacific.
  • Fostering information sharing about the state of MPA management, scientific knowledge and methods, and local and traditional management systems.
  • Promoting the exchange of knowledge, skills, lessons, and experiences by creating a regional learning network focused on peer to peer learning.
  • Supporting and facilitating the exchange of information on island MPA opportunities and needs with the outside world.

The work groups also drafted proposals identifying actions PIMPAC could take to address each priority. The workshop report contains a detailed list of the priorities and action items above.

Initially, the Pacific Islands Marine Protected Area Community (PIMPAC) is focusing on improving training for marine protected areas (MPA) management planning. As part of this effort, the network has developed a training module on how to develop an MPA and management plan. The training module is being used to conduct local workshops at several locations throughout the Pacific to assist local non-governmental organizations and community groups develop MPAs.

PIMPAC is also facilitating two to three exchange visits between Pacific Island MPA managers to promote peer to peer learning. In addition, PIMPAC is partnering with the regional academic institution to develop college-level curriculum around MPA management. This partnership will also support internships for college students within two island jurisdictions to assist with MPA activities.



The Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Community was formed during a 2005 workshop in Guam. The workshop brought together marine protected area (MPA) leaders from throughout the Pacific and generated several reports.



The following agencies and organizations participate in the Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Community:

All island state or territorial marine resource agencies and non-governmental organizations supporting marine resource management on the following Pacific Islands:

American Samoa
Members of the Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Community pose for a group shot.
  • American Samoa
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Palau
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

  • Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management
    • Coastal Programs Division
    • Coral Reef Conservation Program
    • National Marine Protected Areas Center
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Pacific Services Center
  • National Marine Sanctuaries Program


  • U.S. Department of Interior
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Locally Managed Marine Area Network (Fiji and Micronesia Programs)
  • Community Conservation Network
  • Micronesia Conservation Trust