Guam Year of the Reef 2018 launches with two events in February

By AIC Guest Blogger: Whitney Hoot,  Coral Reef Resilience Coordinator, Bureau of Statistics and Plans, Government of Guam


Mr. Carl Dominguez, Director of BSP, Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio, Senator Louise B. Muña, and Guardians of the Reef participants point out just one of the many “Guardians” present at the proclamation signing on February 2nd. Credit: Whitney Hoot, Guam BSP

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.


Piti Pete, the orange-spine unicornfish (Naso lituratus), made a surprise appearance at the REEF Celebration on February 10th. Credit: Patrick Keeler, Guam BSP

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: Updates will also be posted on the GYOR Facebook page (@GuamYearoftheReef2018) and Twitter account (@GuamYOR2018).GYOR2018 logo for AIC blog


It’s International Year of the Reef!

At the 31st General Meeting (November 2016 in Paris, France), the International Coral Reef Initiative declared 2018 as the third International Year of the Reef.IYOR2018_Blue

What is International Year of the Reef (IYOR)?

IYOR is a global effort to increase awareness and understanding on the values and threats to coral reefs and to support related conservation, research and management efforts.  During the last IYOR in 2008, more than 630 events were organized in over 65 countries and territories around the world!

What is the focus of #IYOR2018?

The ICRI is encouraging all members and partners to:

  • strengthen awareness globally about the value of, and threats to, coral reefs and associated ecosystems;
  • promote partnerships between governments, the private sector, academia and civil society on the management of coral reefs;
  • identify and implement effective management strategies for conservation, increased resiliency and sustainable use of these ecosystems and promoting best practices; and
  • share information on best practices in relation to sustainable coral reef management.

What can I do to support #IYOR2018?

  • Keep an eye on the AIC Facebook page. We’ll be posting events throughout the US and updates on ways to get involved.
  • Follow @IYOR2018 on Facebook or twitter to stay up to date on International Efforts
  • Reach out to your favorite Coral Reef organization and see what they have planned.
  • Or host an event to raise awareness among your friends. Some ideas to get you started:

Apply to be a Coral Fellow!

 Looking for a job that will provide solid hands-on resource management experience? Working towards building your career in natural resource management related to coral reefs in your own community?  Want to be part of the next generation of coral reef conservation leaders? Apply to be a Coral Fellow today!

The Coral Reef Fellowship Program seeks to build the next generation of coral reef conservation leaders and supports two-year positions that strive to address current capacity gaps, as well as build long-term management capacity in the jurisdictions by placing highly qualified individuals whose education and work experience meet each jurisdiction’s specific coral reef management needs.

The National Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, the U.S. All Islands Coral Reef Committee and Nova Southeastern University’s Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography.

The seven jurisdictions where fellows will be placed include: the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida, Hawai’i, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. The start date for the two-year positions is January 2018.

Each position has its own distinct work plan specific to jurisdiction management needs and provides training and professional development opportunities. Project work will focus on climate change, land-based sources of pollution and fishing impacts to coral reef ecosystems. Fellows may also work to address local needs such as the development of
management plans for marine managed areas, engagement of stakeholders in resource management, and development of climate change adaptation plans.

The deadline for applications is July 11, 2017.

Please visit to access application instructions.

Qualified candidates meeting stated educational requirements with relevant work experience are encouraged to apply. SCUBA diving will not be permitted as part of job duties and applicants must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident. Applicants need to have completed posted educational requirements by December 2017 and may apply to multiple jurisdictions.

For additional information or questions, please contact

AIC Chair’s Report, Sept 2016: Priorities, updates, challenges, & accomplishments


by Carey Morishige Martinez, Executive director, AIC Secretariat

The U.S. All Islands Coral Reef Committee (AIC) is still in the Marianas (until Saturday) participating in the 36th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) Meeting, but wanted to share with you some of what’s been happening since the AIC last met in February 2016.

In the Marianas, warming waters have already caused coral reef bleaching–for yet another consecutive year. Florida continues to deal with an unprecedented coral disease outbreak. And, in other jurisdictions grounded vessels, invasive species, and land-based pollution impacts, to name a few, continue.

For the AIC, strengthening federal-jurisdiction integration and partnerships, the Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program, and Coral Reef Conservation Act (of 2000) reauthorization remain top priorities.

Now, more than ever, it is critical that we continue to work together to make a positive difference for our coral reefs.

Towards that end, the approval at the 36th USCRTF Meeting of two very important documents (“U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Strategy, FY2016-2021” and “U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Watershed Partnership Initiative Strategy”) is a huge accomplishment and the AIC is proud to have helped build both documents.

For more information and details, check out the newest AIC Chair’s Report presented at the 36th USCRTF Meeting in the Marianas.  

Read through it here or download it here.

AIC Chair’s Report: Priorities, updates, challenges, & accomplishments

AIC Chair's Report - Feb 2016

by Carey Morishige Martinez, Executive director, AIC Secretariat

In the three months since the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force last met, efforts to conserve and manage our coral reefs have continued. Thankfully, the winter season brought cooler waters and a much needed reprieve for our coral reefs, many of which have suffered back-to-back years of bleaching. However, in areas like southeast Florida, the number of corals impacted by an unprecedented disease event continues to grow and the cause(s) of the disease has yet to be identified.

Coral bleaching from warming oceans, ocean acidification, Crown of Thorns Starfish outbreaks, ship groundings, coral disease outbreaks, invasive algae, land-based sources of pollution, and so many other things impact our coral reefs each day.

We must stretch beyond the ‘status quo’ and work together, as federal agencies and jurisdictions, to make a difference NOW.

AIC Chair's Report, Feb. 2016At each biannual U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) meeting, the AIC Chair presents a report of AIC priorities, challenges, and accomplishments in every AIC jurisdiction and the Freely Associated States since the previous Task Force meeting. Check out the newest AIC Chair’s Report presented at the 35th USCRTF meeting in Washington D.C.  

Read through it here or download it here.


We must work together to make a difference NOW


by Carey Morishige Martinez, Executive director, AIC Secretariat

Credit: AICOver the last several months, the jurisdictions and islands have faced extraordinary events that have impacted coral reefs and strained both resources and capacity.

CNMI continues to recover from Typhoon Soudelor, which hit in early August leaving Saipan without electricity or water for nearly three months in some areas. The jurisdictions have seen coral bleaching on reefs just barely recovering from last year’s bleaching event. Reports of bleaching from all across the Main Hawaiian Islands came in as early as September, as a result of water temperatures up to 91 degrees F. Florida is dealing with an unprecedented coral disease outbreak – the largest ever seen on the Florida Reef Tract.

And still, huge steps forward have been made in the jurisdictions and Freely Associated States (FAS) through accomplishments such as:

The Rain Garden Team, comprised of Community members, Village mayors, local and Federal Agency staff and Horsley Whitten Group, after the completion of the Faga’alu Rain Garden Installation in August. Credit: Coral Reef Advisory Group, August 26, 2015The first rain garden in American Samoa installed in Faga’alu. Multiple communities were trained and funding has been identified to expand this practice to other watersheds.

Garapan Conservation Action Plan Meeting with agency heads and legislators, Pacific Island Club Saipan, March 11-12, 2015. Credit: Jimmy Blancia, MediaIn CNMI, at a Garapan Conservation Action Planning Meeting, participants discussed strategies to improve conservation in this priority watershed.

Our Florida Reefs: River to Reefs waterways tour participants – August 2015. Credit: FDEP Coral Reef Conservation ProgramOur Florida Reefs: River to Reefs waterways tour brought together community members and elected officials to highlight the importance of protecting healthy estuaries to ensure healthy coral reefs.

Roxanna Miller, the new Coral Reef Monitoring Technician, finishes a coral quadrat survey while a monitoring assistant, Jacques Idechong, reels in the transect tape at a sampling station within the Tumon Bay monitoring site. Credit: Dave Burdick, Guam Long Term Monitoring ProjectThe draft Guam Reef Resilience strategy, detailing Guam’s response to specific coral reef threats and suggested implementation strategies, is scheduled to be completed by December 2015.

State of Hawaii, Division of Aquatic Resources’ coral hatchery. Credit: Dave GulkoHawai’i demonstrated success in urchin hatchery and coral nursery operations for mitigation. The state is also working toward establishing the first coral mitigation bank in the United States.

Collector plastic bins utilized to transport A. cervicornis from nurseries areas to relocation place in Belvedere and Pta. Guaniquilla Natural Reserve, Cabo Rojo. May, 2014. Credit: E. Irizarr, DNERWork was done, including volunteers, in Puerto Rico’s coral priority area, Cabo Rojo, with Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, threatened coral species.

USVI-1_bayside tour.jsanchezA new Visitor’s Center was created at the St. Croix East End Marine Park in the U.S. Virgin Islands to help highlight the value of coral reef ecosystems.

Image by; map by Google.

In the Federated States of Micronesia, a cooperative effort helped pass the landmark “Shark Bill”, which covers the nearly 3 million square miles of EEZ.

Meeting with Majuro Local Government and Coastal Management Advisory Council regarding  El Niño bleaching and possible regulations. Credit: Broderick MenkeThe Marshall Islands are working set forth new temporary regulations regarding fishing closures, fishing techniques, fish sales, and fish sizes in order to protect herbivores in anticipation of a bleaching event.

Palau-Photo #3The Palau International Coral Reef Center is studying the impacts of two super-typhoons on Palau coral reefs and will quantify their recovery potential and offer adapted management strategies to policymakers.


Awesome work managing and conserving our coral reefs occurs every day in the jurisdictions and FAS. We must continue to work together towards a better future for our coral reef ecosystems.

For more information, download our AIC Chair’s Report, presented to the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force at their 34th meeting, October 26-30, 2015.