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:
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Can You Hear Us Now? Finding new ways to reach out through the Eyes of the Reef Network

By AIC guest blogger, Anne Rosinski, NOAA Coral Reef Management Fellow, Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources

A healthy reef (left), a reef with coral disease (right). Credit L. Preskitt

A healthy reef (left), a reef with coral disease (right). Credit L. Preskitt

It is always important to communicate.  Every day, we communicate to those around us by sharing things like what we have been doing, something we have learned, or to ask for their help.  In coral reef conservation, communication is an essential part of management.  In Hawaii, we have found new ways to communicate the latest information about our response to coral bleaching, disease, and crown-of-thorns (COT) sea star events through a community-based observation network called, Eyes of the Reef (EOR).

EOR websiteI have been working with our EOR Coordinators to improve our communication in several ways.  In August, we launched a brand new website (www.eorhawaii.org) developed by one of our EOR Island Coordinators that features an online reporting system, downloadable final reports, training materials, a calendar, and a news blog.  Since its creation, the site has had over 2,000 views from 24 different countries.  Our latest news blog features stories on community events, new research, management updates, and training opportunities.  I also gave our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/eyesofthereef) a makeover and am using it to promote the latest news stories, share photos, and send network members instant updates. About 1,000 people view our content every week and we are now up to 367 “Likes”.

We are continuing to develop more innovative types of communication including talking points for our outreach specialists, stories for local media, and monthly “Current Conditions” reports that will incorporate climate information.  Our hope is that improved communication will result in a stronger collective response to these threats facing our coral reefs.  So stay tuned and feel assured that if there are any new developments, you will be sure to hear about it.

Kiss those Lionfish Goodbye!

By AIC guest blogger, Jenn Travis, NOAA Coral Fellow at St. Croix East End Marine Park

Derby participants kiss the invasive lionfish goodbye at Reef Jam in St. Croix May 26. Photo credit: J. Tavis

Derby participants kiss the invasive lionfish goodbye at Reef Jam on May 26. Photo credit: J. Tavis

Lionfish first appeared in the water surrounding St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the mid-90s and now, they’re an epidemic!  Not only do they eat tons of our smaller reef fish each year, they also have a painful sting when handled incorrectly.  The Virgin Islands would be lost without our reefs so everyone is finding ways to combat the lionfish invasion.

The Friends of the St. Croix East End Marine Park host a lionfish derby each year at one of St. Croix’s biggest music festivals, Reef Jam.  The 3rd annual Lionfish Derby at Reef Jam at Rainbow Beach was held on the weekend of May 25th. The event hosted nine lionfish hunters and brought in exactly 100 dead lionfish. Awards were given out for the longest, smallest, and heaviest lionfish, as well as most lionfish caught. Prizes for the Derby winners, such as dive trips, jewelry, and gift certificates for dinner, were donated by local businesses.

The Friends of the St. Croix East End Marine Park helped build awareness of this issue during the event, which brought in over 2000 participants.  At the fish weigh-in, the group’s booth was swamped and lots of families came by to learn more about the lionfish we caught.

Will Coles from the VI Department of Planning and Natural Resources and Donna Boles a Friends of STXEEMP volunteer weigh and sort the lionfish. Photo credit: J. Travis

Will Coles from the VI Department of Planning and Natural Resources and Donna Boles a Friends of STXEEMP volunteer weigh and sort the lionfish. Photo credit: J. Travis