Help Protect Our Planet's Coral Reefs

by The Coral Reef Alliance
Sereima, a beneficiary of reef funds
Sereima, a beneficiary of reef funds

One of my favorite things about working for CORAL is hearing about the direct impacts we have on local communities and people’s lives. It’s not every day that you hear about conservation efforts that have enhanced people’s lives, and it’s such a powerful thing to know that communities can really thrive and benefit from protecting their natural resources. So when I hear about how our work translates into benefits for local communities, it warms me from the inside out.

I had one of those moments recently when speaking with Juliane Diamond, one of our program managers. She was in Fiji last month, and attended a stakeholders meeting for the Namena Marine Reserve. The meeting was held by the Kubulau Resource Management Committee (KRMC), a local NGO we’re working with to protect the Reserve. Juliane was there along with about twenty other people—a mix of community members, dive operators, KRMC members, local authority figures, and more. They joined together to talk about the year’s progress, and the future of the reserve.

When we met to talk about her trip, Juliane reminded me that the Namena Marine Reserve sold over 1,600 dive tags last year—more than ever before. They sold so many that they ran out halfway through the year and had to order more. The dive tags generate much needed revenue for the reserve and not only help fund management efforts, but are also used to directly benefit the neighboring Kubulau community. So these extra funds mean that the local community can install shelters and make repairs at bus stops, so community members don’t have to wait for buses in the rain.

The funds are also used to provide scholarships for children of the Kubulau community to go to school. Juliane had a chance to catch up with Sereima, a scholarship recipient from 2007. She received a scholarship to help her complete her bachelor’s in Applied Science, and is now working for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. “I felt relieved that there was something there that could help me finish my degree and get to graduate,” said Sereima. “If [the scholarship] hadn’t existed, I don’t know if I would have been able to afford it.”

According to Aborosio, a KRMC member, “Namena is a source of life for Kubulau.” And it really is. Surrounding the tiny island of Namenalala, the approximately 70 square kilometer Namena Marine Reserve was established in 1997, when community members successfully banned commercial fishing within the region. We’ve been working with the community to help them address illegal poaching in the Reserve, and to help enhance the dive tag system and generate more revenue for the Reserve and the community. While the reserve helps preserve such an incredible underwater treasure and popular dive spot, it is also so much more. No one could have said it better than Fiji resident and KRMC member Tevita: “CORAL and Namena carry the hopes and future generations of Kubulau.”

Thank you for helping to ensure the success of such an important project!

Fiji's beautiful Namena Marine Reserve


The small-fishing village of Tulamben in Bali struggled with poverty for decades, but that changed with a series of unfortunate events a few decades ago. The USS Liberty beached along its rocky shore after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942. And in 1963 the eruption of Mount Agung pushed the ship into the ocean, making it quickly one of the most well-known wreck dives in the world. It wasn’t long before tourism became the main source of income for the community. Today, Tulamben is known as one of the best dive spots in Bali, and the USS Liberty wreck can see upwards of 100 people per day during the high season.

But with tourism comes more people, and more people means more stress on the marine ecosystems. We started working with the Tulamben community in 2013 to help them manage their coral reefs, and the community is starting to mobilize to take action—notably in the area of waste management.

As it is in many other places in Bali, waste management is a challenge in Tulamben, especially during the rainy season. Tulamben, located at the base of Mount Agung in the North East of Bali, is one of the driest places on the island. Rain is a luxury there, but when it comes, it washes the volcanic sediment and trash that has accumulated in the dry river beds straight into the ocean, burying the nearshore coral reefs.

The village planned and held a community-wide beach cleanup on February 25, 2015, to help remove some of the debris and bring attention to this issue within the broader community. More than 80 people attended the event, including Nyoman Ardika, the head of Tulamben village, and Komang Agus Sukasena, the head of the environmental agency.

“We need both healthy coral reefs and clean beaches for tourists to keep coming to Tulamben,” shared Veronika Niken, one of my coworkers here in Indonesia. “We were excited to see such a great turn-out at the event and to see the community really come together to protect their coral reefs.”

As a next step, community leaders have begun collaborating with their local government to rehabilitate some of their coral reefs. To further quote Veronica, “We look forward to continuing to support this village. We’re excited to see what the future holds for their reefs and and to keep partnering with them in their important efforts.”

Namena Marine Reserve, Fiji
Namena Marine Reserve, Fiji

Every day, those of us at CORAL give thanks to reefs for all they provide: beauty, food, storm protection, livelihoods, and more. And we give back by working tirelessly—with your support—to protect them.

For example, today, thanks to your partnership with CORAL, there are:

  • More sharks in the Namena Marine Reserve . . .
  • Recovering fish populations in Roatan’s Sandy Bay-West End Marine Reserve and Maui’s Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area . . .
  • Significant new protections for some of the Mesoamerican Reef’s most spectacular coral habitats and for sharks and rays in parts of the Coral Triangle . . .
  • Commitments from many groups in Hawai‘i, including government officials and hotel staff, to address head-on the problems caused for reefs by wastewater . . .
  • Programs in Honduras, Fiji, and Indonesia where dive tourism directly funds conservation and community initiatives, providing compelling incentives for locals to protect their reefs . . .
  • People who have changed their behaviors—whether while diving on a reef, decorating their homes, or planning for their new fish tank—to reduce their impact on coral reefs . . .

As our second decade comes to a close, we know that we have many reasons to be thankful for reefs and what we have accomplished for them . . . and even more reasons to be committed to doing even more in the year—and years—to come.

Thank you for your support.  And best “fishes” for a wonderful 2015!

The CORAL Team

Fishers in Bali
Fishers in Bali
Partners in Honduras
Partners in Honduras
Floating Workshop in Maui (photo by Amanda Stone)
Floating Workshop in Maui (photo by Amanda Stone)


Utila Conservation Fund in Action by Lucie Brown
Utila Conservation Fund in Action by Lucie Brown

The threats facing coral reefs are too significant to be combatted by one person, one organization, or even one strategy. That's why the cornerstone of CORAL's work is building partnerships. Over the last couple fo months, we've shared a few new examples of how we're helping to grow and provide tools for a growing network of coral advocates and thought you might be interested in hearing about them!

Since 2012, CORAL has been working on the Honduran island of Utila to bring together conservation groups, local government officials, fisherman, and other community members to collectively address conservation priorities. One of our first tasks was creating a shared bank account; we then provided the initial funding for what is now called the Utila Conservation Fund.

We are happy to share that the first Utila Conservation Fund project was launched in June. The team created informative reef etiquette posters that have been distributed to local businesses. The graphics aim to educate tourists about the beautiful underwater world that Utila boasts and inspire ownership and pride among local residents. If you’re traveling to Utila for your next dive adventure, be sure to check them out!

Also, as part of our 2011 Building Reef Resilience to Climate Change workshops, CORAL issued a series of microgrants to participants so they could implement local scale projects that would put what they learned into practice. Thailand participants Srisakul Piromvaragorn and James True started a small campaign with the Reef Guardian group in the province of Satun to encourage people to stop hunting parrotfish on Lipe Island.

Now, they have joined with other partners and scaled up their successful efforts to stop the selling of parrotfish in the cities. In July, several large supermarkets pledged to ban the selling of parrotfish in their stores!

We congratulate Srisakul, James, and all of our partners in Utila on their great work. We're so proud to have helped start and bolster these fantastic programs and so grateful to you for making them possible with your support.

Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa and Liz Foote
Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa and Liz Foote

Sometimes building a network of coral reef advocates means getting wet—and on Maui recently, this meant that even the mayor dove in. This spring, field managers Liz Foote and Wesley Crile, along with partners from the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative and the Division of Aquatic Resources, are holding a series of “snorkel tours” for local decision makers and other stakeholders. The first one was held at—and in—the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area. Before taking to the water, Liz spoke to the group about CORAL’s work with resorts to promote water conservation and support the county’s efforts to expand wastewater reuse infrastructure. A greater network of recycled wastewater pipes will ultimately improve local reef health and conserve potable water supplies.

On the tour, participants saw reef conditions ranging from dead zones to healthy coral with a school of grazing surgeonfishes, a hopeful sign of recovery. Says Liz, “The mayor, who arrived barefoot with his mask and fins in a bucket, and who is an avid waterman, was eagerly engaged and interested in exploring solutions together. He is supportive of holistic watershed-based conservation strategies in line with the Hawaiian concept of ahupua‘a management.” Ahupua’a refers to the traditional Hawaiian concept of managing land and other natural resources from the mountains to the sea.

CORAL’s Hawai‘i staff is also working with the 15-year old founder of ReefQuest, Dylan Vecchione, to build a “network” of coral reef images by taking overlapping photos of Maui reefs that will be used in ReefQuest’s online educational tool, the “Virtual Reef.” The Virtual Reef uses Microsoft’s Photosynth technology to create a three-dimensional rendering of the reef that can be used to monitor reef health over time (monitoring will take place on a biennial basis). Liz says she will use it in workshops and lesson plans for teachers as well as for speaking to decision makers. “It’s a great way for people who cannot or do not want to get in the water to see a reef,” she says.


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Organization Information

The Coral Reef Alliance

Location: Oakland, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Sarah Freiermuth
Marketing & Communications Director
San Francisco, CA United States
$11,704 raised of $25,000 goal
212 donations
$13,296 to go
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