By AIC Guest Blogger: Whitney Hoot, Coral Reef Resilience Coordinator, Bureau of Statistics and Plans, Government of Guam
Guam Year of the Reef 2018 (GYOR) launched on February 2nd with a proclamation signing by Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio and presentation of a legislative resolution by Senator Louise B. Muña. Held outside at the Governor’s Complex in view of the reefs of East Agana Bay, the event was well attended, including over 100 participants from the Guardians of the Reef program, representing four local high schools. The “Guardians” are 11th and 12th grade students trained to teach 3rd graders about coral reef ecosystems. At the event, both students and adults declared their commitment to protecting coral reefs by signing the Reef Pledge.
On February 10th, the Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program (GCCRMP) held the second Reef Exploration, Experiences, and Fun (REEF) Celebration. Over 1,300 community members have participated in this program by completing training to learn how to collect data and monitor the health of reef flat habitats. This event, which was supported by the Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans (BSP) and NOAA, featured GCCRMP’s Adopt-a-Reef groups and showcased the efforts of local organizations such as the University of Guam’s Marine Lab, Micronesian Conservation Coalition, and Humatak Community Foundation.
Presentations emphasized that although Guam’s reefs have severely deteriorated, there is an important source of hope among the many dedicated citizens, natural resource managers, and community leaders who care deeply about Guam’s coral reefs. Attendees nodded their heads when viewing slides showing degraded reefs, demonstrating their awareness of the dire situation, but clapped enthusiastically as groups and individuals were recognized for their tireless efforts to conserve coral reefs. Ms. Val Brown, NOAA Fisheries, gave participants another reason to celebrate: GCCRMP is being renamed Friends of Reefs Guam (FOR Guam), as the program will be expanded to include activities outside of monitoring, such as coral reef restoration – another source of hope for Guam’s reefs.
More information on GYOR is available here: http://www.guamcoralreefs.com. Updates will also be posted on the GYOR Facebook page (@GuamYearoftheReef2018) and Twitter account (@GuamYOR2018).