Lawsuits and Floating Workshops Give Promise to Hawaii Reefs

Floating workshop. Photo by Amanda Stone

On May 30, 2014, a federal court ruling found the County of Maui, which operates the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, to be in violation of the Clean Water Act. This ruling was in relation to injection wells which the County uses to dispose of treated wastewater effluent. The effluent travels underground through groundwater, and percolates up into coastal coral reefs of West Maui through submarine springs (seeps). This inflow of warm, nutrient rich, and oxygen poor water is negatively impacting these reefs. Although CORAL was not a party to this particular lawsuit, which was filed by several environmental groups, we are equally concerned about how this acute water pollution issue is harming the reefs. CORAL, along with other conservation organizations, has been working with the County, the accommodations industry, and local community members to address this issue by encouraging the reuse of this treated water as an … [Read more...]

Shifting Baselines

Me (Kate) diving in Cozumel. Photo by CORAL staff

As part of CORAL’s development team, I don’t get many opportunities to go into the field. But last month, I joined Field Programs Director Jason Vasques on a trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for a series of meetings relating to our work with the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI). Now, not only are trips into the field a little rarer for us development folk, but I didn’t join CORAL with much of a conservation or marine biology background. When I joined CORAL in the summer of 2009, my only interaction with a reef was snorkeling in Bermuda when I was seven. Had I not taken this job, I am not sure I would have ever pursued SCUBA certification. Having said that, when in Rome . . . In the winter of 2011, when my first work trip to our project site in Mexico was approaching, I gave more serious thought to the idea of getting certified. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to see firsthand what it is that I spend my days … [Read more...]

Making Scientific Research Relevant

Mushroom coral (Fungia sp.) in Palmyra. Photo by CORAL staff

Scientific research has great potential to inform conservation efforts. All too often, however, scientific results that could be useful languish on library shelves (or get lost in the cloud) instead. Some researchers make concerted efforts to address real-world questions, but these attempts frequently fail because the researchers do not fully understand what kind of information will be most useful to managers and conservation professionals. If on-the-ground practitioners are consulted, it’s usually at the end of a project when they are asked how they will use a new tool or newly revealed information, at which point the opportunity to guide development of the new tool or the type of information collected has long passed. The Reefs Tomorrow Initiative* (RTI) has taken a different approach to ensure that our research results address the most pressing needs of managers and conservation professionals. Parallel to our scientific pursuits, … [Read more...]

Visiting Reefs and Rain Gardens with the Mayor of Maui County

Heading into the water with Mayor Arakawa (blue shirt).Photo by CORAL staff

On a beautiful and uncharacteristically calm afternoon in February, Maui County’s Mayor, Alan Arakawa, arrived at Kahekili Beach Park, barefoot and carrying a mask and fins in a bucket. Mayor Arakawa was eager to get in the water to dive with CORAL and our partners from the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative and the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources ("DAR") to check out the reef. We had invited the Mayor and Rob Parsons, Executive Assistant for Environmental Concerns, to join us to visit priority watershed conservation sites in West Maui—primarily the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (“KHFMA”), designated by the US Coral Reef Task Force as a top priority. We wanted to see the reef firsthand and talk about solutions to the many interconnected threats facing our reefs. As it turns out, our mayor is an avid waterman. He told us that he has dived reefs all over Maui throughout his life, but hadn’t been out diving in over a … [Read more...]

Preparing the Pacific Region for CITES Shark Protections

Participants at the CITES workshop in Fiji, February 2014. Photo by CORAL staff

On February 11 and 12, 2014, in Nadi, Fiji, The Pew Charitable Trusts, CORAL, and the Fiji Government hosted the Oceania Follow-up Regional Workshop on the Implementation of CITES Appendix II Shark Listings. With representatives from 11 countries in the Pacific and over 60 participants and observers, significant progress was made toward ensuring these newly listed species--oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, the porbeagle shark, and two species of manta rays--achieve the protection they desperately need. The workshop kicked off in traditional Fijian fashion with an opening welcome from Mr. Samuela Namosimaluaa, Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, as well as with a video message from the CITES Secretary General Mr. John Scanlon. The panel included Imogen Zethoven, Director of Global Shark Conservation for The Pew Charitable Trusts acting as … [Read more...]

Social Science in Coral Reef Conservation

The author meeting with community members in Fiji over kava. Photo by CORAL staff

The social sciences have historically been more intertwined with terrestrial conservation than with their marine counterpart. The notion of incorporating social science into conservation efforts began with the concept of Integrated Conservation and Development Programs (ICDPs), which aimed to simultaneously meet development and conservation goals. While the results of these projects were mixed, it remains a commonly used concept, carried out under the more commonly known term of  “community-based natural resource management” or “community-based conservation." Through these programs, conservation groups, particularly in the developing world, are increasingly incorporating social needs into their strategies. Socially integrative concepts like co-management, Territorial Use Rights Fisheries (TURFs), and Rapid Assessment techniques are now more prevalent in coral reef conservation as well. All of these structures and tools incorporate … [Read more...]

CORAL – True Partnership Defined

blog-post-1

As CORAL’s development director, I am responsible for the success of our fundraising and communications efforts. One of the most significant struggles I’ve faced in that role is finding the balance between shouting from the rooftops how awesome our organization is—because it is—and giving credit to our partners, whose profiles we want to raise. That struggle resolved itself for me during a recent trip to Honduras; I joined members of our staff and Board on a field visit to learn more about our current and future projects there. I saw firsthand what partnership really means for conservation and why CORAL’s value lies not just in how effective we are—but more importantly, in how effective we help make everyone else. Jenny Myton is one of the most talented conservation professionals you will ever meet—and fortunately for CORAL, she serves as our Honduras Field Manager. But Jenny would rather I talk about our partners Giaco, Nic, … [Read more...]