Monday, October 12, 2009

Coral Reef Alliance: seeking pratcical solutions to sustain coral reefs

The Coral Reef Alliance is one of the international organizations dedicated to protecting our coral reefs. They strive to strike a balance between strict environmental protection and well-managed economic development that can help sustain the reefs.

The Reef Tank's Community Blog had an opportunity to interview the Coral Reef Alliance's executive director, Brian Huse. Here's a portion of the post:

"Coral reefs are dying. It's a sad, but true fact.

Fortunately, one group out there believes in the majesty and mystery of coral reefs and in their ability to teach, sustain, inspire and give life. They've gone to great lengths to turn the dive community into one of conservation and commitment to the protection of corals. Thus, the Coral Reef Alliance has grown from a small, grassroots alliance into the only international non-profit organization that works exclusively to protect our planet's coral reefs.

'We have lost over 20% of all coral reefs in the past 40 years and, if we don’t reduce human impact on them, we may lose our remaining reefs within our lifetime,' says Executive Director Brian Huse in an interview, 'We hold the hope for reversing this crisis and believe in the power of community to make change, to find common ground, and to heal.'

Read more of Brian's inspirational words below.

What is the Coral Reef Alliance and how do you carry out your mission to save coral reefs?
Originally founded in 1994 to galvanize the dive community for conservation, CORAL has grown from a small, grassroots alliance into the only international nonprofit organization that works exclusively to protect our planet's coral reefs. We provide tools, education, and inspiration to residents of coral reef destinations to support local projects that benefit both reefs and people. We currently work in Hawaii, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.

What are some of your ongoing projects and campaigns? What creative and appropriate solutions do you seek?
CORAL’s approach is to build Coral Reef Sustainable Destinations (CRSD) around strategically located Marine Protected Areas and the communities who rely on them for food, coastal protection and livelihoods. Working with reef managers, the community, and the private sector, we build capacity for sustainable reef conservation management that returns benefits in the form of greater fish stocks, better job opportunities, and revenues that can improve the quality of life. Most importantly, CRSD targets the improvement of reef health within the MPAs in a way that builds resistance to global stressors such as climate change. For more information please go here.

Tell me about your Sustainable Marine Recreation workshops.

CORAL has developed a sequenced, comprehensive set of professional development workshops targeted for marine recreation providers and providing an introduction to the principles and practice of sustainable marine recreation. New and veteran marine recreation providers collaborate at these workshops to increase their confidence and gain familiarity with current coral science and research, issues in reef management, the benefits of marketing sustainability, and what educational experts have identified as effective strategies for learning in informal educational settings.

In addition to learning about sustainable marine recreation, participants engage in hands-on activities, practice a variety of teaching strategies for improved messaging to their clients, receive exciting materials, and review a host of resource materials to help them operate sustainably (examples of CORAL resources developed for tour operators can be found here and here.

How does recreational tourism affect the coral reef population?

Tourism is a double edge sword when it comes to maintaining healthy coral reefs. On the one hand, the development required and the increased population it generates put tremendous strain on reefs. However, if tourism can be managed sustainably, it can be leveraged in a way that generates revenue for conservation and community benefits. CORAL seeks to do just this – ensure the sustainability of tourism, and use the capacity inherent in recreational operations (boats, staff, and visitor contact) to improve reef health, educate tourists and, importantly, ensure that local populations benefit from the income generated."

Thanks to Ava at The Reef Tank. To read the entire posting, click here.

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