At the conclusion of the 2009 expedition, we left you with promises of updates and publications and news. I'm writing now to make good on that promise; even though the blog has been a little quiet, there has been much action behind-the-scenes, and PIPA has reached several important milestones.
First, in September 2010 (~1 year post-expedition), a group of scientists met to brainstorm the next decade of PIPA research. Following the 5-day meeting, a Science Advisory Committee was created, and a document drafted containing the vision for scientific marine research in PIPA for the next 10 years. Already well underway, the scientists (myself included) have been busy fundraising, designing experiments, and planning the logistics for the next expedition (upcoming in 2012). Here's a group shot from the meeting:
Another major milestone occurred last month (May 2011), when delegates from the Kiribati government, the New England Aquarium and Conservation International signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to continue their partnership work on PIPA for another four years.
May 2011 was historic for PIPA on a number of fronts. The PIPA Conservation Trust held it's second annual board of directors meeting in Seattle. Directors include (R to L) Bud Ris (NEAq), the Hon. Minister Amberoti Nikora (Kiribati MELAD), and Dr. Greg Stone (CI); below, they are welcoming the new Executive Director of the Trust, Dr. Teuea Toatu (far left).
PIPA was also recently highlighted at the second International Marine Conservation Congress for its collaborative partnership with Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument - 2 of the 43 "crown jewels" of the ocean.
Most recently, there are five new scientific publications that have just been published about PIPA; one in the journal Coral Reefs; and four in the Atoll Research Bulletin.
Of course, the biggest news (almost a year old now!) is that in August 2010, PIPA was inscribed as a World Heritage Site; now the world's largest and deepest. marine World Heritage Site. Happy almost birthday, PIPA WHS status...
The next expedition is slated for Spring 2012, and this blog will get busier as the preparations begin. For more real-time news, please be sure to go to connect at our facebook pages Phoenix Islands Protected Area and the New England Aquarium.