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Aug 7, 2018

CORAL's 2018 Conservation Prize Winner!

Since 2014, the CORAL Conservation Prize has been awarded annually to an individual who has proven to be an outstanding leader in the conservation of coral reefs. The CORAL Prize is a unique opportunity to recognize the people that are truly making a difference in the future of coral reefs, and applicants are nominated by a member of their community for their achievements and dedication. This year, we are honored to present Komeno Roberto (Roberto) as our 2018 CORAL Conservation Prize winner.

Roberto grew up in Atsimo Andrefana, (Southwest) Madagascar, an area struck by immense poverty but surrounded by some of the most beautiful and diverse coral reefs. Roberto’s dedication to coral reefs and his community has been proven time and time again through his work as Head Scientific Advisor at Reef Doctor, a UK-based non-profit conservation and social development organization, and over his 18 years at the Institute of Fisheries and Marine Sciences in Toliara Madagascar. Roberto leads Reef Doctor’s diverse conservation and development projects including; aquaculture, reef restoration, marine reserve management, and research. He is one of only of 4% of the population of Atsimo Andrefana to obtain a university education; he holds a Masters in Applied Oceanography from the University of Toliara and a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Antananarivo.

Roberto has worked on a wide range of conservation efforts including monitoring coral bleaching, managing and developing marine protected areas and protecting and monitoring seagrass. His research yields important science-based information for all partners and has pioneering new techniques and pushed the boundaries of development and coral research in Madagascar.

Roberto is both an integral member of the reef conservation community and an outstanding leader in his community. Atsimo Andrefana is a rural area where over 70% of the population has received less than 4 years of education and 88% of the population is identified as living in either severe or acute poverty, according to an Alkire and Santos Multidimensional Poverty Index assessment. Through his work at Reef Doctor, Roberto has worked closely with the local fishing communities to provide the skills and tools to the local community to protect and manage their marine and terrestrial ecosystems and support the livelihood of around 200,000 rural fishers threatened by declining fishery yields and degraded marine habitats. This, in turn, improves the well being of the impoverished rural communities as well as the natural environment and resources they depend upon, which are largely threatened by degradation and over-exploitation.

Roberto’s commitment to leadership in both coral reef conservation and within his community has helped save coral reefs in Madagascar and serves as an inspiration to all who love and depend on coral reefs.

Jun 12, 2018

Safeguarding Fiji's Reefs- Episode 3 of 3

The following is the final installation of a three part series about a small island in Fiji. Check out the associated video series here

“Uniting Communities to Save Coral Reefs.” That’s the mission of the Coral Reef Alliance, and we’re working with local communities in Oneata to identify and implement solutions for their future.

Coral reefs and fish populations are intricately linked, and the decline of coral reef health in Fiji has jeopardized food security in Oneata, where a remote location means that local communities depend on fishing for both their food and income.

CORAL is teaming up with local leaders in Oneata to create win-win plans that benefit both the community and conservation. This type of management structure enables families to maintain their livelihoods and, at the same time, builds sustainable resource systems that will last for generations.

Implementing stronger regulations against overfishing, teaching community members about sustainable alternatives and protecting coral reefs in and around the local fishing grounds will ensure that the people of Oneata safeguard their own future as well as the future of nearby ecosystems.

CORAL has a long history of working with communities in Fiji to protect coral reefs and the people who rely on them. We know that people and reefs depend on each other, and we’re working in Fiji and a number of other places across the globe to unite communities to save coral reefs.

But we can’t do it alone; we need your help. Right now, we have the local support necessary to develop durable solutions that can exist well into the future. But we do not yet have the financial resources to turn these solutions into reality for the Oneata community. Today, we ask you to consider making a donation. Please visit to donate and learn more about how you can support communities like Oneata and save coral reefs.

Soko Ledua:
“Mainly we just want the youth to be educated, so they can look for long-term business. Mainly for supporting their children. If we keep on harvesting, we don’t get the fish for our children.”

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May 28, 2018

Safeguarding Fiji's Reefs- Episode 2 of 3

The following is the second in a three part series about a small island in Fiji. Follow along in the coming weeks as we uncover the whole story and check out the associated video serires here.

Maraia Somi: “The look of the sea is different from before. And corals, there were many kinds of coral. We see the corals, all dead. And the fishes that we see before, won’t be able to see that much nowadays.”

Food security is especially concerning in Oneata, where the distance from the main Fijian islands limits access to food markets. Traditionally-owned fishing areas called iqoliqoli have been used for generations, but overfishing has dramatically decreased catch sizes and catch amounts. On a recent field visit to Oneata, the community requested the help of the Coral Reef Alliance to address overfishing concerns.

Soko Ledua, the head of the local fishing group, is one of the community members who worries about the future of fishing in Oneata. For decades, fishermen have sought out the highly-prized sea cucumber, which can have a market value upwards of 50 US dollars each. But like the reefs, populations of sea cucumbers are declining.

“Before, just in front here, we just catching (sea cucumbers) here, twenty, forty pieces per day. But here, let’s see, yesterday here we are catching only seven. If we keep on harvesting this one, maybe ten years left…”

Last year, CORAL held a planning session and workshop with communities in Oneata to help identify challenges and successes with the current management efforts of their iqoliqoli. That meeting inspired a number of solutions that are specifically tailored to Oneata’s needs.

For example, CORAL is working with the Ministry of Fisheries in Fiji to train the local fishing group and community on best practices for sustainable fishing. Fishermen will learn how to measure the appropriate catch size for different fish species, and will train to become fish wardens of the iqoliqoli, to better protect it from outside fishing pressure.

CORAL is also establishing partnerships in Oneata to create aquaculture systems in exchange for strong community commitment to avoid overfishing in the marine reserve. One such system is a mollusk and lobster aquaculture pilot program, which will provide a source of food and livelihood for the community while the iqoliqoli recovers.

This is the first time that CORAL is tackling aquaculture, and what we love most about this collaboration with Oneata is that the ideas were generated by members of the community. This project will be an important model for how to finance conservation on remote coral reefs that don’t have access to revenue from tourism, and will be scalable to other remote areas of Fiji.

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