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:
Advertisements

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 sharkdefenders.com; 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.

The Awesomeness that is the Coral Fellowship

by Carey Morishige Martinez, Executive director, AIC Secretariat

CoralFellow_Collage

As job postings for a new cohort of Coral Fellows are closing this Friday (7/31/15), I thought this would be a great “don’t you want to be part of all this awesomeness?” post/tickler.

While I was never a Coral Fellow myself, I’ve worked with fellows in the past, and have learned a lot over the past two years while helping the AIC highlight and push for the renewal of this very successful program.

Since its inception in 2003, the National Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program has been a long-standing fellowship program within NOAA. After a brief hiatus, the program is back and built on a partnership between NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, the U.S. All Islands Coral Reef Committee, and the National Coral Reef Institute. Over the years, this program has provided opportunities for students and recent graduates to gain experience and knowledge in the field of coral reef management at the local level in the coral reef jurisdictions of the U.S. as well as with Federal government agencies like NOAA. A significant number of the previous fellows from this program have gone on to careers in the arena of coral reef and/or marine resources conservation and with the jurisdictional knowledge and understanding gained during the fellowship.

I have to admit that one of the most impressive things about this program is finding out what the fellows accomplished during their fellowship and where are they now. Here are a handful of VERY COOL highlights. 

  • Hawai’i – This fellow played a key role in supporting the work of Local Action Strategies in Hawai’i. Upon completion of her fellowship, she became a Planner for the Hawai’i Division of Aquatic Resources where she led the development of the Hawaii Coral Reef Strategy. She is currently the Reef Resilience Project Manager at The Nature Conservancy.
  • Puerto Rico – After finishing his fellowship he stayed with the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) for a while and has played a key role in the protection of coral reefs beyond his fellowship. He is now the representative of The Nature Conservancy in Puerto Rico and works hand on hand with the DNER Coral Reef Committee in strategies and activities to protect these ecosystems.
  • American Samoa – A former fellow coordinates the jurisdiction’s Coral Reef Advisory Group, which coordinates American Samoa’s coral reef management efforts and activities. Member agencies work together towards mutual consensus to manage coral reefs with the vision “to protect and conserve reefs for the benefit of the people of American Samoa, the United States, and the world.”
  • USVI – A USVI coral fellow stayed on with the St. Croix East End Marine Park (STXEEMP) after her fellowship through the one-year contract position. During that time she grew the Friends of STXEEMP group that she developed, supported implementation of park rules and regulations, and served as a liaison between the park and its users.
  • CNMI – It was with the help of a fellow that CNMI was awarded $2.9M (ARRA funding) for the improvement and management of Laolao Bay, a priority watershed. That fellow helped build and implement the Conservation Action Plan for that bay. Today, that fellow continues to work at the jurisdictional level as Lead Staff and Marine Resource Steward for Snohomish County, WA.
  • Guam – A former fellow remained on Guam and currently serves as a federal fisheries biologist and liaison as part of the Habitat Conservation Division of NOAA Fisheries’ Pacific Islands Regional Office.
  • Florida – Florida was able to keep their fellow on after the fellowship in her original position. She is responsible for coordinating the Maritime Industry and Coastal Construction Impacts focus area for Florida’s Local Action Strategy, the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI).

Now, don’t you want to be a Coral Fellow?! 🙂

The 4-1-1 on Coral Bleaching

by Carey Morishige Martinez, Executive director, AIC Secretariat

Since summer, I’ve seen a seemingly unending flow of media headlines like these: “Coral Bleaching Outbreak Triggered By Warming Seas,” “State continues to monitor coral bleaching off Windward Oahu,” “Report: Reef showing signs of coral bleaching,” and “Scientists report coral bleaching off Kauai coast.” And, they keep on coming.

What does this mean? Why is bleaching happening?

I went looking for answers and here are some of the great resources I found:

bleachingWhat is coral bleaching? – NOAA National Ocean Service’s Ocean Facts
“When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white.”

 

Bleached coral within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA NOS

 

What happens when a coral bleaches? – NOAA’s Diving Deeper (pub. 12/3/14)

“MARK EAKIN: You know when the water warms up, what happens is it’s actually good for the algae in one way in that it makes all of their photosynthetic apparatus run really great, but the problem is they run too fast; and as they run too fast they’re not able to repair themselves and the lack of repair causes the algae to start releasing compounds that are toxic to the corals. The coral sees this as, “whew, we’ve gotta get rid of you because if we don’t, we’re both going,” and they will actually eject the algae out from their tissues. They move them into the guts, spit them out—it’s a literal gut-wrenching experience when they do this. They’re breaking up pieces of tissue to get rid of this, to slough it off.”

Daily 5-km Satellite Coral Bleaching Thermal Stress Monitoring How do I know when bleaching might happen? There’s a site for that! NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch
“The NOAA Coral Reef Watch program’s satellite data provide current reef environmental conditions to quickly identify areas at risk for coral bleaching..”

 

 

Hawaii Eyes of the Reef trainingWhat Can I Do? There are SO MANY ways you can help!

GOT Training?
Join an organization like Hawaii’s Eyes of the Reef Network, Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program, Southeast Florida Action Network (SEAFAN) BleachWatch, or Coral Watch. Help monitor and report coral bleaching in your area.

Bleached coral in American Samoa. NPSTeach others!
Check out these free lesson plans:

  • Coral Bleaching: A White Hot Problem – grades 9-12 from Bridge. Students “assess coral bleaching using water temperature data from the NOAA National Data Buoy Center.”
  • Caution: Do Not Bleach! – grades 9-12 from NOAA Ocean Service Education. Focuses on “Why are coral reefs important, and what are possible explanations for the phenomenon known as ‘coral bleaching?'”
  • Sea Surface Temperature and Coral Bleaching – grades 3-8 from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program. “Students will learn about the anatomy of coral bleaching, how ocean temperature increase can be a cause of coral bleaching and will try to predict general areas likely to be affected by coral bleaching by interpreting sea surface temperature data.”
  • Coral Bleaching: Turning Up The Heat – grades 5-8 from the National Park of American Samoa. Students will be able to define global warming and adaptations and ID several coral reef species in American Samoa.

Now you know and as GI Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.” 😉

AIC Headed to the 30th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meeting

By Carey Morishige, AIC Secretariat

Buck Island Barrier Reef, St. Croix, USVI. Credit: J. Brooks

Buck Island Barrier Reef, St. Croix, USVI. Credit: J. Brooks

The AIC is headed to the 30th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, November 12-15, in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. We have a lot to discuss, numerous updates to share from each of our jurisdictions, and intend to make full use of our time all together. Amidst learning more about the resources of USVI and a couple of their top watershed projects, we’ll also be meeting with our main Federal partners.

Stay tuned here and on our Facebook site for more information as we’ll be sending updates from the Task Force meeting.