By AIC guest blogger, Marybelle Quinata, Program Coordinator, Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program
Launched in 2012, the Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program (GCCRMP) helps Guam residents get actively involved with coral reef management. GCCRMP’s monthly open training sessions and monitoring events bring community members together to collect data about the health of our coral reefs and understand the importance of protecting them. This year, GCCRMP will expand its Adopt-A-Reef network. Through this initiative, different community groups can lead coral reef monitoring efforts at their adopted site, such as a family beach or favorite snorkeling spot, and organize other activities that encourage environmental stewardship. The Marina Mania club of George Washington High School and Umatac Coral Reef Ambassadors are the first two groups to “adopt a reef” in their respective villages. The Adopt-A-Reef network can strengthen partnerships among community groups who support each other by sharing their group’s stewardship activities and lessons learned with one another. Our hope is that growing the Adopt-A-Reef network will keep Guam residents involved and instill a sense of responsibility, collective ownership, and most of all pride in Guam’s marine resources.
Earlier this summer, GCCRMP began working with the Merizo community. Merizo residents participated in community monitoring training located within the Manell-Geus watershed. This watershed was recently selected as a focus area for NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint, an effort to foster healthy habitats that sustain resilient and thriving marine and coastal resources, communities, and economies. Monitoring reefs with the GCCRMP, residents gain first-hand knowledge of their local reefs and the threats that affect the health of their reefs. Members are empowered to share their knowledge of reef impacts among their classmates, relatives, and fellow village residents. GCCRMP will also include socioeconomic monitoring starting with the Manell-Geus watershed. Combined with biological monitoring data, information on how people value and use their reef resources can open productive communications between residents and the government. In turn, this can help the community group raise awareness and develop actions that residents and the government can take to protect reefs.