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Feb 21, 2019

Clean Water for Reefs Mural Completed in West Maui

Coral Reef Alliance partners with PangeaSeed Foundation and Wooden Wave artists to create a mural in Maui of our Clean Water for Reefs initiative

West Maui, Hawaii– The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) is excited to share the news of the completion of a mural in Maui that shows a creative interpretation of our Clean Water for Reefs initiative. CORAL partnered with PangeaSeed Foundation and Wooden Wave artists, Matt and Roxy Ortiz, to produce a mural that inspires environmental change. The mural also shows how Hawaiian residents can enjoy and protect the landscape of West Maui so that it provides clean water for the coral reefs that we’re working to save.

Photo by Tre Packard

PangeaSeed Foundation and teams of artists created eight murals in Wailuku, Maui, with the help of partners including CORAL, Maui County, SMALL TOWN * BIG ART, Lush Natural Cosmetics, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, Patagonia, Pacific Whale Foundation, Volcom Hawaii, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, the Johnson Ohana Foundation, Montana Cans and Behr Paint.

CORAL advised Wooden Wave on the creation of the large-scale mural, located at 1760 Mill Street in Wailuku, Maui so that it conveyed a creative depiction of the midslope region where CORAL is ensuring clean water for coral reefs.

CORAL’s Clean Water for Reefs initiative in Maui focuses on reducing land-based sources of pollution in the Wahikuli and Honokowai watersheds, which were identified by researchers from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as the biggest sediment polluters in West Maui. CORAL is implementing innovative planting practices that reduce land-based sources of pollution like sediment and soil that gets washed downstream, where it settles on coral reefs and causes coral disease and death.

Addressing land-based pollution not only helps corals stay healthy, but it also helps them be more resistant to the rising temperatures of climate change, and scientists from The Nature Conservancy recently found that coral reefs in West Hawaii were stabilizing and poised to recover from the worst bleaching event in the state’s history four years ago.

CORAL is ensuring clean water for reefs Maui and is identifying best practices of planting techniques so that these approaches can be used by international partners to provide clean water for coral reefs around the world. To learn more, please visit coral.org/maui.

Jan 11, 2019

The Success of Namena Marine Reserve's Dive Tags

The Namena Marine Reserve (Namena) in Fiji is renowned as of the world’s most incredible scuba diving locations, attracting divers from around the world with its unparalleled coral reef and marine life. When snorkelers or divers visit Namena, they proudly wear a round “poker chip” style tag on their gear, which they later take home with them as a treasured token of their time in Fiji. What many people don’t realize, however, is that this dive tag is much more than just a souvenir – it represents a great success story for community-based conservation.

Namena is Fiji’s largest “no-take” Marine Protected Area (MPA) and forms part of the traditionally-owned fishing grounds (iqoliqoli) of the Kubulau community. The dive tag program was born over 15 years ago when the Kubulau community approached CORAL for assistance in developing a sustainable management system that would protect Namena’s fisheries from overexploitation, while providing tangible benefits to the community.

Photo by Dory Gannes

Photo by Dory Gannes

In 2003, CORAL helped the community launch a dive tag program, modeled off of a system used in Bonaire Marine Park in the Caribbean. The program uses fees from the purchase of dive tags to fund MPA management and community development, thereby increasing community “buy-in” for conservation and alleviating fishing pressure.

CORAL assisted in funding and implementing the first Namena dive tag in 2003. Ever since then, Namena has been holding an annual Dive Tag Photo Competition in which individuals from around the world are invited to submit underwater photos from Namena. The winner of the competition has the unique privilege of having their photo featured on the Namena Dive Tags for the year. This summer, in the fifteenth year of the Photo Competition, photographer Lars Wahlquist won over the judges with his stunning photo of a Cuthona nudibranch.

2019_NAMENA_DIVETAGS_Lars Wahlquist

Today, both coral reefs and the Kubulau community reap the benefits of the voluntary dive tag program, in what is clearly a win-win for both communities and conservation. More than 1000 tags are purchased annually by visitors and Marine Recreation Providers at the price of FJ$30. The funds collected from the sale of the dive tags are used to conduct maintenance on moorings within the reserve, fund patrols for enforcement, and sustain a scholarship fund for students from Kubulau, which has already benefitted well over 200 students.

Namena is now one of the most successful MPAs in Fiji, and its dive tag user fee system is upheld as a model for other community-managed MPAs throughout Fiji and the world. If you ever have the luck of diving in Namena, you can be proud that your dive tag purchase is making a meaningful contribution towards protecting coral reefs and supporting Fijian communities!

Dec 10, 2018

Conservation in Honduras Pays Off for Coral Reefs

In January 2018, we shared the results of Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI)’s report on the status and trends of reef health in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR). One of the key findings of the HRI Report Card is that the long-term dedication and collaboration of groups like CORAL in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) has paid off, leading to direct and measurable improvements in reef health.

Tela_3

Despite the fact that corals worldwide were hard-hit by mass bleaching over the last few years, 10 years of reef monitoring by HRI – from over 300 sites across 1000 kilometers and four countries – tells us that things are looking up in the MAR. The positive trend is attributed to stronger fisheries management and a significant increase in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which now cover 57% of the MAR. Legal protection and local management actions like no-fishing zones can lead to a measurable and positive shift in the number and size of fish. And when herbivorous fishes (like parrotfish and surgeonfish) thrive, coral reefs benefit because these fishes intensively feed on harmful seaweeds that outcompete and can overtake corals.

The results of the HRI Report Card are encouraging for two reasons: First, it tells us that there are indeed straightforward and concrete actions we can take to help corals adapt to the immediate challenges in their environment. Second, it tells us that the strategies that CORAL has been employing in our twelve years of engagement in the MAR are exactly the right things to be doing. We were proud to see in the HRI Report Card that reefs in West End on the island of Roatán are among the healthiest reefs in the entire MAR. For over 15 years, we have been working in West End, supporting and building the capacity of Roatán Marine Park (RMP), our long-time partners and co-managers of the Bay Islands National Marine Park.

Nowhere is the success of our approach more evident than in the recent declaration of the Tela Bay Marine Wildlife Refuge.

Tela_1

Thanks to the hard work of CORAL and partners, in early 2018 the Honduran national government approved the declaration of this new marine protected area, which covers 86,259 hectares of reefs and coastal ocean. Hiding in Tela Bay’s unassuming murky waters are some of the healthiest coral reefs in all of the Caribbean. Scientific surveys have shown that Tela Bay supports a staggering sixty-nine percent of live coral cover, which is more than three times the average coral cover in the Caribbean. The bay supports forty-six coral species, eighty-three fish species and eighteen types of marine habitats. It is also home to healthy populations of elkhorn and staghorn coral – a rare distinction given that these critically endangered species have declined by eighty percent over the past thirty years. The refuge will not only ensure the future of this stunning ecosystem, it will also enable the coral reefs to continue to provide food and economic opportunities to the thirteen coastal communities that live on its shores.

As part of our efforts to protect the unique reefs of Tela Bay, CORAL also played a key role in the declaration of Honduras’ first coastal managed-access fishery in Laguna de los Micos – a lagoon near Tela Bay where juvenile reef fishes grow up.  This managed-access fishery creates an important model for fisheries reform in the southern MAR. We’re continuing our work with local partners to ensure protection of this marine treasure through projects that create win-wins for people and reefs, such as supporting alternative livelihoods to reduce unsustainable fishing in Tela Bay and the neighboring Laguna de los Micos.

Tela_2

Amid the often gloomy messages about the fate of coral reefs, we feel it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the hard-earned conservation successes by dedicated communities of people who care deeply about the future of reefs – from non-profits and the dive community to governments and local fishing communities. We look forward to seeing what more we can accomplish together!

 
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