Nahtik is a sandy islet about one kilometer in size adjacent to the barrier reef. The only shade on the island is provided by three slim mangrove trees, which are surrounded by coral rubble, seashells and white sand. The ocean is crystal clear with a white sandy bottom, sea grass beds and colorful coral formations abundant with marine life.

The villagers of Woauhn Kepin Soamwoai have been fishing here since they were kids. Epert Mikel, village chief and now a state senator, lives on the main island of Pohnpei. During his youth, he traveled in a small canoe about 20 minutes to Nahtik to fish for his family. Blue spine unicorn fish, humphead parrotfish and turtles used to be plentiful in these waters, but due to the introduction of non-traditional forms of fishing – such as spearguns, flashlights, motorboats, fins, nets and scuba gear – marine life has declined.

Community members from the four villages of Soamwoai, Mwoakot, Enipein Powe, and Enipein Pah created Woauhn Kepin Soamwoai through a Community Action Plan (CAP) in 1995 to help protect resources in the upland forests, mangroves and coral reefs. Nahtik was declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 1999 and now it is a “no-take zone.” Epert Mikel (Souliken Soamwoai), with the help of three other chiefs: William Gilmete (Kuroulikiat), Kasiano Santos (Souliken Mwoakot), and Leon Miguel (Koaroamen Soamwoai) recognized that the Nahtik MPA needed greater assistance because community members were not respecting it. In 2003, a new CAP was created to focus on the management of the MPA.

The Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP) saw that Woauhn Kepin Soamwoai had being doing their own MPA work and needed assistance, so they approached the community and helped them create an action plan. CSP also told them about the LMMA Network and indicated that this would be the site for the Network and CSP to do LMMA work. With the help of the Network, CSP is now teaching the community how to do fish monitoring. When this MPA site meets the requirements, they can become a full member of the LMMA Network.

In the beginning, the community believed it would be a waste of time to set up an MPA. Now, they are actively involved in doing surveillance for poachers and have started their own community fish monitoring. They now feel that they have a say with this new form of community partnership and would like to see other communities protecting their marine life while contributing to and benefiting from the island’s management.

Location – Micronesia
6° 51′ 39.546″ N, 158° 15′ 48.78″ E