Nyoman Sugiarta…Where Is He Now?

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Since winning the CORAL Conservation Prize a few months ago, Nyoman Sugiarta has been putting his prize money back into protecting his community’s coral reefs. Nyoman won $20,000 on September 20, 2014 as the first ever CORAL Conservation Prize winner. So what is he doing now? He recently quit his job as villa caretaker and fisherman to focus full-time on developing a sustainable dive tourism industry in his hometown of Bondalem in Bali. This will generate support for his community’s marine protected area, as well as provide alternative livelihoods for fishermen to reduce the amount of fishing pressure on the reef. In December, Nyoman and his partners from the community surveillance group he used to work at invited the rest of the Bondalem community to attend a meeting to discuss the potential for tourism in the area. Our Coral Triangle Regional Field Manager Naneng Setiasih was a guest speaker at the meeting, and was able to … [Read more...]

Making a Splash with Microgrants

Sophia Anner, CORAL Intern

By Sophia Anner, CORAL Intern and student at Albany High School As a student in the Environmental Design, Science, Engineering, and Technology (EDSET) program at Albany High School in Albany, California, I get to take courses with an emphasis on the environment, as well as intern with an environmental organization. I chose CORAL because I have always been interested in the ocean, especially as a child, and I thought learning about coral reefs would be especially intriguing since I previously didn’t have much knowledge about them. This semester, I’ve been researching CORAL’s microgrant program. I first compiled all of the archived information that existed on the microgrants they’ve handed out and sorted them by location. I then analyzed the data and wrote up a final report showing which categories of microgrants received the most grant money and how that money was used. Since 1995, CORAL has given out 96 microgrants to 17 … [Read more...]

Honduras NGOs Unite!

13 NGOs working to protect the marine and coastal resources of Honduras met in Tela to discuss future collaborations

Successful coral reef conservation begins with networks—not only networks of locally-managed marine protected areas, but also networks of people. That’s why we hosted a meeting on October 27 that brought together more than 13 organizations from Honduras. The day had one goal: to build alliances between a host of organizations that are all working toward the same outcome—a healthy and thriving coastal and marine environment in Honduras. Rather than a formal agenda, each group presented about their work for 10 minutes, and then led a question and answer session that often turned into lively and stimulating conversations where everyone shared their ideas, their frustrations, what works, and what doesn’t. The meeting was purposefully left rather unstructured to allow for relationships to organically form. And it certainly worked. The group has already had a follow-up meeting, and is collaborating to secure a higher level of … [Read more...]

Effective Management for the Pacific Remote Islands

coral reef at Palmyra Atoll

I was thrilled when I heard the news about President Obama creating the largest marine reserve in the world by expanding the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument (PRINMM). At CORAL, we work all over the world to create networks of marine protected areas. But with any marine protected area, successful management is always a struggle. And it’s something we’re working to address. How do you make sure a marine protected area is going to be managed and enforced, and how do you get the local community and stakeholders to buy-in and support the effort? So naturally when I heard about the PRINMM, I couldn’t help but wonder—how is the area going to be managed? How are they going to get the buy-in of key stakeholders? How will they enforce regulations? The new reserve is going to be six times its current size—it will span across 383,000 acres. And it holds some of the most pristine and healthy coral reef ecosystems in the world. … [Read more...]

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...]