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Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners

by Fundación Grupo Puntacana
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Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Transforming Local Fishermen Into Coral Gardeners
Coral Gardeners
Coral Gardeners

The Dominican Republic has put in place a number of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 including a national curfew that prohibits all traffic and movement of people. This situation has affected our Coral Restoration program collaborators, limiting their activities and working hours.

We do have some great news for corals! We're very happy to announce our new Eba project: CoralRestore DR!

The goal of CoralRestore DR is to reduce climate risks and build climate resilience of the Punta Cana community and ultimately other communities across the DR and the Caribbean region.

The ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) approach taken by the CoralRestore DR project involves protection, direct restoration, and rehabilitation of coral reef ecosystems; reductions in fishing and reef pressure by enforcing conservation regulations and involving fishermen in employment opportunities outside of current fishing activities; and scaling of the intervention model supported by this project. Under this general approach, four types of interventions will be carried out: (i) coral nurseries and outplantings; (ii) local community engagement; (iii) development of ecosystem goods and services; and (iv) replication and scaling of the coral restoration model.

All interventions will be carried out in the EZ-SMS, located in the PC region, in the municipality of Higuey, in La Altagracia Province along the eastern coast of the DR. The near-shore environment along the PC coast includes extensive coral reef ecosystems providing ecosystem services. These reef ecosystems are linked to a wide range of important economic activities benefiting local communities, such as tourism and fishing.

The criteria used to select the specific project site are based on vulnerability assessments of the EZ-SMS a protected area declared in 2009, composed of 800,000 ha and covering about 120 km of coastline. Fundación Grupo Puntacana is a member of the co-management team for the entire Sanctuary, focusing on the Eastern Zone (about 140,000 ha, covering 20 km of coast). This co-management arrangement is contained in a 25-year agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and is a unique public-private collaboration in the Caribbean. It is based on a joint management plan of the Sanctuary divided into three zones: South, Center, and East. This marine co-management agreement is the first of its kind in the DR and creates incentives for private sector investment and involvement in management of coastal resources. 

The full achievement of ecological and social resilience through this type of comprehensive project approach is predicted to take a minimum of 5-8 years. This three-year project aims to achieve important preliminary outcomes and lay the foundation for even more significant outcomes in the follow-on years. Therefore, it is important to describe in the Theory of Change (ToC) the short-medium-long term plan, and at the same time create a viable platform for increased private sector involvement and investment in protection of coastal ecosystems by demonstrating the value of these ecosystems to hotels and the tourism economy.

We're looking forward to having our Coral Restoration program running at full capacity in a couple of weeks. Will keep you posted! 



Microfragmentation
Microfragmentation
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New Coral Nursery
New Coral Nursery

During this period, the coral gardening group, in addition to their assigned activities (maintenance of the nursery, coral transplantation, etc.) has been involved in different projects developed at the Center for Marine Innovation (CIM), among them are:

  • Monitoring the status of parrotfish populations. The Coral Gardeners have been trained in the identification of different species of parrotfish and their different lifecycle phases. This work has improved their understanding of the importance of parrotfish to healthy coral reefs and it ensures that they continue to improve their capacity.
  • Seagrass population status at Puntacana Resort & Club. Working along side a visiting researcher, the fishermen helped marked permanent sites for the long-term study of the condition of seagrasses and their associated fauna.
  • Coral monitoring. Assisted another visiting scientist in her evaluation of the density and richness of coral recruits at a restoration site called the “Coliseum.” They also supported the identification of coral babies (recruits), as well as the monitoring of the benthos of this site.

The Coral Gardeners also lead the effort to create a second coral nursery in the Puntacana Resort & Club reef area and participated in the 5th Edition of Coralmania in November 2019. Coralmania is a massive outplanting event held by the Dominican Coastal Restoration Consortium where coral reef administrators, managers, restoration practitioners, government representatives, tourists and many others come together for 2-4 days to transplant coral fragments from the local nursery back on to the natural reef. Their participation and leadership resulted in over 1,700 coral fragments being transplanted; the largest restoration effort of the Coralmanias’ to-date.

New Coral Nursery (2)
New Coral Nursery (2)
Monitoring coral recruits at the Coliseum
Monitoring coral recruits at the Coliseum
5th Edition of Coralmania
5th Edition of Coralmania
5th Edition of Coralmania 2
5th Edition of Coralmania 2
5th Edition of Coralmania (3)
5th Edition of Coralmania (3)
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Evaluated site #1
Evaluated site #1

During this period the efforts of the group of coral gardeners focused on finalizing the evaluation of the transplant sites, evaluated a total of 48 sites. We have now evaluated more than 61 different sites of coral colonies at Puntacana.

They have also introduced microfragments of the Porites Furcata coral species in the nursery of the Grupo Puntacana Foundation, as well as, they have developed an exhaustive maintenance work, for us keep being one of the best coral nurseries evaluated by the Dominican Consortium of Coastal Restoration (CDRC).

Finally, they have collaborated in the realization of other primary activities for the Center for Marine Innovation. A highlight of this activities, was the filmed documentation of the spawning of the coral colonies Acropora Cervicornis at the transplant sites; in the sampling for the study of the biofilm of bacteria from the transplanted coral colonies; and in the selection of seagrass sites for study and conservation.

Evaluated site #2
Evaluated site #2
Evaluated Site #3
Evaluated Site #3
Evaluated Site #4
Evaluated Site #4
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Coral Gardeners
Coral Gardeners

Continuing with the restoration efforts of the Fundación Grupo Puntacana, the group of coral gardeners (Fausto, Joel and Alberto) has dedicated itself to planting 264 colonies of the staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), which represents 350.37 meters of live coral tissue, in the degraded reefs in the Punta Cana region since last March. Likewise, they supported the transplantation of 192 micro - fragments grown at the facilities of the Marine Innovation Center. Additionally, they have contributed with the evaluation of 12 of 61 coral transplant sites, which will help a more effective restoration of those sites that have been suitable to continue restoring them. Finally, the coral gardeners have been collaborating with other scientific restoration projects in charge of interns or volunteers of the CIM, with the purpose of improving the techniques and methodologies of the restoration efforts that the Foundation is currently carrying out.

Coral Gardeners 2
Coral Gardeners 2
Coral Gardeners 3
Coral Gardeners 3
Coral Gardens
Coral Gardens
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Table I
Table I

The transplant effort of coral fragments during the year 2018, began in the month of April and was completed in the month of December. During this period, a total of 1,023 fragments of the Acropora Cervicornis coral from the Puntacana Group Aquarium were transplanted. This corresponds to 887.38 meters of living coral tissue (Table I).

Table I. Number of fragments, total of transplanted tissue and number of tissue receptor sites of Acropora Cervicornis coral per month, during 2018. 

These fragments were transplanted in 9 different optimal sites as receptors of coral tissue (Table II), 4 of them were established during this season.

Attached are some photographs of the coral gardeners doing different activities within the process of transplanting coral fragments.

Table II. Geographic location of the transplant sites during the year 2018.

Table II
Table II
Coral Gardeners working (1)
Coral Gardeners working (1)
Coral Gardeners working (2)
Coral Gardeners working (2)
Coral Gardeners working (3)
Coral Gardeners working (3)
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Organization Information

Fundación Grupo Puntacana

Location: Santo Domingo, no applicable - Dominican Republic
Website:
Project Leader:
Jacob Kheel
Vice President
Santo Domingo, no applicable Dominican Republic
$50,179 raised of $180,000 goal
 
64 donations
$129,821 to go
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