Sustainable Marine Workshop held

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 16, No. 46            November 23, 2006

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Through educational lectures, CORAL helped island residents become more aware of reef conservation.

Dive/tour operators managers, guides, boat captains, dive instructors as well as members of the community attended the first ever workshop on Sustainable Marine Recreation. The two day free training provided by the Coral Reef Alliance and the partners of the ICRAN Mesoamerican Reef Alliance project concentrated on their project “Protect your business by protecting your reef.”

    In more than 100 countries, with countless communities relying on coral reefs for income and food, the protection of coral reefs is an important matter for policy makers and governments, especially ministries of tourism, environment and fisheries. The protect your business by protecting your reef program is both educational presentations and interactive sessions where those attending take a proactive approach to making minor changes in order to protect the valuable reef, rather than waiting for government entities. In an interview with Rich Wilson, Program Manager, with The San Pedro Sun, he commented, “we tap into the people’s various expertise, we analyze what they believe are the biggest threats to their reefs and what they believe are solutions to the problems. Most of the threats they come to realize can be easily fixed with minor behavioral adjustments and that is what the educational presentations are all about.”

    And identify threats is what participants did. The biggest threat that was agreed upon was lack of education, others included coastal development which led to problems such as sewage problems; dredging; sedimentation; anchoring; overfishing or fishing for the wrong species; improper management of natural resources; and lack of cooperation.

    When asked what they hope to have accomplished after the two days, Wilson responded, “To have one person learn about ecology and the proper way to care for the reef and go dive and be aware of the little things, we have succeeded. Changes can occur, some do take time, but other we can make on our own. It is all about education and the true love for the reef and wanting to conserve it. That is why the program is named that, if the reef is gone there is no business,” he ended.

    Coral Reef Alliance’s new Coral Reef Sustainable Destination model (CRSD), CORAL is able to measurably increase the capacity of communities to work collaboratively towards coral reef conservation. The current geographic focus of Coral’s field work is in the Indo-Pacifi, including areas such as Hawaii, Fiji, and Papua, New Guinea, and the Caribbean, with a particular emphasis on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

    Known worldwide by its panda logo, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) leads international efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats. Now in its fifth decade, WWF works in more than 100 countries around the globe to conserve the diversity of life on earth. With nearly 1.2 million members in the U.S. and another four million worldwide, WWF is the world’s largest privately financed conservation organization.
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