Oscar Sablan | Ocean Elder

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Oscar Sablan is a lifelong spearfisherman who learned his skills from his family of fishermen
and mariners. When spearfishing he enjoys the freedom of being able to choose his catch, but
makes it a point to take only what he needs and nothing more. He believes it’s important that he
passes on his knowledge so our youth may understand the importance of conserving ocean
resources for future generations: “I now pass the torch as my ancestors did to me.”

Ramon Rechebei | Ocean Elder

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Ramon Rechebei grew up with the ocean as his playground and his provider. As a young boy in
Palau, he found recreation in learning how to fish and observing different sea creatures and their
behaviors. His upbringing with the ocean informed his professional work as a marine biologist in
then Trust Territory Administration in Saipan from 1974 to 1983 and in fisheries management
and related activities for the Government of Palau from 1984 to 2006. He retired in 2006 and
spent the next seven years serving as Ambassador of Palau to the Republic of the Philippines,
Indonesia and Vietnam. Mr. Rechebei believes that in teaching our youth about the ocean, we
must balance the science curriculum taught in school with experiential learning by engaging with
parents so that traditional knowledge, as well as cultural values about the ocean, can be reinforced and encouraged at home.

Tony Pangelinan | Ocean Elder

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For Anthony Pangelinan, being a fisherman is more than a skill – it is a way of life. His
relationship with the ocean secures his survival during tough times, and provides him with food,
healing and joy. He believes it is his life’s purpose to pass on his knowledge so future
generations may know how important it is to protect both land and sea. In his eyes, “One of the
most important customs to pass on is to respect the ocean… To respect our ocean is to care for it,
to allow it to prosper”.

Joseph Omar | Ocean Elder

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Joseph Omar started fishing when he was 14 years old and has been learning about the ocean ever since. While he doesn’t claim to be an expert, through his years as a professional fisherman, he has become familiar with fish patterns and habitat changes throughout the Marianas. He has noticed the way our coral reefs are slowly dying and he hopes that by sharing his experience with younger generations, he can help the community protect ocean ecosystems.

Edson Limes | Ocean Elder

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For Edson Limes, learning about the ocean as a child was simply a part of life; he grew up among fishermen and eventually worked for Coastal Resource Management and the Department of Environmental Quality collecting ocean data. In his opinion, “you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to protect the ocean; it’s in our genes.” He believes it’s important for him to pass down his ocean knowledge because he knows that if he doesn’t share it, it will be lost.

Antonio Piailug | Ocean Elder

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Pwo’ navigator Antonio Piailug has been fishing, identifying sea creatures, and practicing the art of traditional navigation since he was seven years old. He has spent many years sharing his knowledge of traditional boat building and navigation and is passionately committed to preserving this culture and skill through educating the youth.

Frances Sablan | Ocean Elder

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Frances Sablan grew up picnicking and fishing at the ocean’s shore with her family. Years of windsurfing and rod and reel fishing have left her with a deep respect for the waters of ocean, as well as a familiarity with the many species of sea animals that call our waters home. She believes that we need to protect our very valuable natural resources and empower our community with knowledge to conserve, preserve, and protect those resources for ourselves and generations to come.

Cecilia Selepeo | Ocean Elder

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At an early age, Cecilia K. Selepeo learned from her elders that the ocean heals, gives life, takes lives, and saves lives. An experienced fisherwoman, she uses a handline, casting net, and rod and reel to enjoy the fruits of the ocean without wasting or taking more than she needs. She has also voyaged into the world of traditional seafaring, sailing aboard the Okeanos Marianas and learning navigation skills from Carolinian master navigators. She intends to share her knowledge and value of the ocean because she believes that if we as a community do not take care of the ocean, we will lose our true identity.