Green Reef represents Belize in Okinawa

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 24            July 15, 2004

Features: Search Issues | Read Back Issues | Subscriptions | Merchandise Ordering Information

Green Reef's Mito Paz returning from trip to Okinawa

Mito Paz, Executive Director of Green Reef Environmental Institute in San Pedro, has recently returned from a trip to Okinawa, Japan where he attended the 10th annual International Symposium on the Reef sponsored by the International Coral Reef Society and the Japan Coral Reef Society. Paz and fellow Belizean Melanie McField of the World Wildlife Fund were among 1,400 people who participated in the five-day (June 28th - July 2nd, 2004) event, which brought together international coral reef scientists, researchers, marine park managers, government agency personnel, and non-governmental organization (NGO) members from around the world.

    Following the symposium, the Green Reef Executive Director took part in two Coral Reef Monitoring workshops sponsored by Coral Network (July 3rd) and Reef Check (July 3rd- 7th). The Coral Network "Spot Check Workshop" involved a standard, simplified method of coral reef monitoring used by the Ministry of the Environment in Japan. The Reef Check/SocMon Workshop focused on the method of coral reef monitoring employed by Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN)/Reef Check. Training was received through lectures, snorkeling and scuba dive training.

    Mr. Paz explained that "SocMon," is a set of guidelines for establishing a socio-economic monitoring program at coastal management sites. It provides a methodology for regularly collecting basic socio- economic data useful for coastal management at the site level. It also provides a basis for a regional system by which site level data can feed into regional and international databases for comparison. "This method measures the value of the coral reef by introducing the human factor into the formula. It measures how many people are using the reef and what they are using it for. It also seeks to estimate how it would affect people's livelihood if reefs were to disappear twenty years from now," stated Paz.

    Open water training was conducted in the Kerama Islands, one of the world's most prominent coral reef sites. Unfortunately, two typhoons located offshore in the Pacific Ocean prevented the group from conducting any significant amount of water training. According to Mr. Paz, ocean swells were reportedly 20 feet high at times, so he was only able to complete one dive, in rainy conditions. He described the Japanese corals as very different from the ones in Belize. "Some of the reefs there have 100% coverage. Like Belize, the coral bleaching of 1998 hit them hard and killed approximately 50% of their corals. Their recovery was much quicker though, due to a type of plate-like coral that grows very quickly, compared to our hard corals," Mr. Paz explained. Participants used the extra time not spent in the water to "brainstorm" ideas regarding the information and methods provided in the Reef Check manual.

    The training workshops introduced two simple ways to monitor coral reefs so that nations' economies can continue to rely on them as a source of income. By monitoring coral reefs, data is compiled that will hopefully be used to improve coral reef preservation. Following the training, participants were able to choose which method they thought would be more suitable for the local conditions and which would hopefully spread the use of coral reef monitoring throughout Japan.

    Reef Check, who funded Green Reef's participation in Japan, is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to bringing coral reefs back to health and keeping them that way. Reef Check's mission is to train teams of volunteers to monitor the status of the reefs around the world. The information gathered is used to make decisions on how to preserve and wisely use reefs. Reef Check has survey teams in more than 50 countries. These groups look after their local reefs and work with individual governments and businesses to develop ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions for the future of the Earth. The site's geographic coordinates and the coral reef survey data collected is then processed and thoroughly examined to determine whether or not the reef is healthy. The organisms counted include invertebrates, fish, nutrient indicator algae (NIA) and recently killed corals (defined as killed within the past one year as indicated by algal growth). A low number of certain organisms may indicate activities such as over fishing, blast fishing, poison fishing, aquarium fishing, nutrient pollution and curio (gift shop) collection.

    During his trip to Japan, the Green Reef President also learned that the Reef Check database would soon be online so that everyone will be able to check on the health of the reefs in their region or compare them to others around the world. Paz told The San Pedro Sun, "This information will be invaluable when making presentations to regional stakeholders or government agencies, especially if it helps them to realize the importance of preserving our coral reefs."

    Green Reef was established as a Reef Check regional training center in November 2003. Reef Check serves as the community-based component of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) and collaborates on regular status reports. Reef Check is a member of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN). Reef Check data is provided to Reefbase, the global database on coral reefs.
Search go!
| | Island Info | Community | History | Visitor Center |
Belize News | | Messages |

Copyright © San Pedro Sun. Design by Casado Internet Group

San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News