Ngederrak Reef MPA was established in 2001 at a time when fisheries resources were heavily exploited. Koror State placed a two-year moratorium on fishing and place a strict no-entry status on the entire reef. Based on initial assessments showing severely depressed populations of fishery-targeted species and no real recovery, the moratorium was extended to four years. At the end of this 4 year period, Ngederrak reef was freely open for just two weeks. During this period, anecdotal catch reports suggested significant recovery of some species, and the area has been permanently closed since 2005 with the designation of 'Conservation Area'. Long term monitoring of Ngederrak Reef provides an opportunity to follow the recovery of a heavily exploited coral reef ecosystem to a more sustainable state.
This horseshoe shaped area is one of the most unique reefs in Palau. Contained in a very small area (4 sqkm) are a wide array of reef habitats and therefore a great diversity of species. Deep channels border Ngederrak Reef where high currents give rise to different species of soft coral and gorgonians, typically seen in fore-reef areas. The reef crest is much like a barrier reef here, with massive reef building corals a the mid depth range creating spur and groove formations and a shallow algal ridge dominated by calcarous corraline algae that serves as a protective layer during extreme low tide exposure. Behind this is a shallow reef flat with dense mixed seagrass beds where the rare dugong is known to feed. Additionally, there is a broad lagoon with deeper seagrass beds and small patch-coral formations. To find this combination of habitat types, one would typically need to travel across miles of ocean. Close proximity to the main town of Koror and this diversity of habitats made Ngederrak Reef a favored fishing area. Being in the line of sight from the marine park rangers’ office, this close proximity now serves as its greatest protection.