Her smile and her passion say it all. This is what you first notice when you meet Kalena Debrum, the Chief Scientist of Coastal Fisheries in the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority. Passion for her job and for everything related to marine conservation.
She is among the participants attending the Third Regional Technical Meeting on Coastal Fisheries, which was held in Noumea, New Caledonia. When addressing the audience, her voice is clear and eloquent. She talks about the successes of the Reimaanlok National Conservation Area Plan, including the fact that the support request always comes initially from the community itself.
The session Kalena participated in was on scaling-up community-based fisheries management. "For us, this is a fundamental, because projects may fail if the community has not taken the initiative to protect their marine resources," she explained to the representative of Wallis and Futuna, who asked for clarification during her plenary presentation.
She also said that it was a long-term job and everyone agreed that the Pacific Islands have the same problems, namely, the lack of means and resources to meet the continuing need to monitor and update community management plans.
"The beauty of regional exchanges like this is that you don’t feel alone with your problems," she says. "Receiving support from the Pacific Community Fisheries Division reinforces our hope and we are confident that, in the end, the lessons learned that we have heard about today will also serve others in the future."
About 60 participants from 20 Pacific Island countries and territories reflected on their experiences and their next steps to expand the coverage of community-based fisheries management approaches.
Kalena shares how she experienced these three days of discussion: