The CORAL Reef Leadership Network Goes Global
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
San Francisco, CA - September 23, 2008 - The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) has taken its environmentally sustainable tour guide training program worldwide. The CORAL Reef Leadership Network—a program designed to teach local tour operators and marine park managers how to train others in sustainable marine recreation practices—launched in Mexico and Hawaii this summer and will launch in Belize and Fiji this fall.
The program provides trainees with the knowledge and skills to effectively convey educational curriculum about coral reef conservation, resource management, and sustainable tourism practices to fellow tour guides, boat captains, and other marine recreation providers. Armed with an arsenal of up-to-date and local conservation information, CORAL Reef Leaders teach their peers how to act responsibly around coral reefs. In just one year alone, eight volunteer leaders on Maui will train more than 100 tour guides who will impact nearly 75,000 tourists. The resulting behavior can significantly reduce negative tourism impacts on reefs.
The first class of CORAL Reef Leaders in Cozumel, Mexico, graduated this past spring and began teaching sustainable marine recreation workshops (see photo, right). CORAL recently signed a formal agreement with Cozumel Reefs National Park and the local tour guide association (witnessed by the mayor of Cozumel, the port captain, and the comandante of the Navy) to make the CORAL Reef Leadership Network the official training program for the 1,200 tour guides who operate within the marine park. To date, approximately 80 tour guides have been trained in best practices that will reduce local threats to coral reefs.
According to Ramiro Ferriol, a Cozumel CORAL Reef Leader and general manager of Sand Dollar Sports: "It's important to our future to be involved in conservation work. We have to be leaders. It's simple-and just a little extra effort-but the rewards for our planet and our businesses are much greater." Each tour operator that has undergone the sustainable marine recreation training is free to promote this fact in its marketing materials as a means of attracting business from eco-conscious tourists.
In Hawaii, the first class of CORAL Reef Leaders on Maui (see photo, left) graduated in August and will begin teaching workshops in the coming months. The training program will launch on the Kailua-Kona coast of Hawaii as well as in Belize and Fiji this fall.
In the past, the sheer number of tourist sites and dive opportunities around the world has made delivering consistent conservation information challenging. As the program matures, CORAL Reef Leaders will train new leaders and the sphere of knowledge about sustainable practices will spread throughout entire regions. Through the CORAL Reef Leadership Network, CORAL has created the capacity to not only institutionalize marine tourism outreach and the implementation of best practices in its worldwide project sites, but also provide a mechanism for outreach, learning, and modeling of sustainability to neighboring coastal communities. Find out more at www.coral.org or by calling 888-CORAL-REEF.
CORAL is the only international organization working exclusively to save coral reefs. It builds grassroots partnerships among local communities, government leaders, marine recreation operators, and marine park managers to identify and solve conservation challenges through education, training, and effective management of marine protected areas.
Julie Bennett, Communications Manager
Phone: (415) 834-0900 x319 or Email: jbennett (at) coral.org
Photo credits: (top) Photo by Rich Wilson, Cozumel CORAL Reef Leader Sergio Sandoval Jr. teaches a sustainable marine recreation workshop; (bottom) Photo by Rick MacPherson, Maui CORAL Reef Leaders.