One of the biggest obstacles local conservation organizations face is lack of adequate funding. CORAL is committed to helping the organizations with which we work to create revenue streams that pay for their conservation activities; when it’s time for CORAL to move on to another site, we can be confident that—with the support we’ve provided and the sustainable financing system we’ve put in place—reefs will continue to receive the protection they need. Some examples include:
CORAL facilitated development of a successful and transparent user fee system that supports general management of the Namena Marine Reserve and also funds a variety of initiatives like youth scholarships and bus shelters. Tourists receive a commemorative dive tag when they pay their fee (30 FJD in 2014) to dive or snorkel in the reserve; the Kubulau Resource Management Committee receives the dive tag revenue and is responsible for protecting this stunning reef.
We also developed a business plan for the reserve, the first of its kind for a marine protected area, that clarified how the user fee system would be managed by local stakeholders to ensure success.
The Roatan Marine Park (RMP) sells a variety of merchandise in their shop on the island’s West End and at kiosks on the cruise ship docks to help pay for their operating costs; one of the most popular items, also sold by many of the local dive shops, is a voluntary user fee bracelet. For $10 (as of 2014), visitors can purchase one of these bracelets to show their support for Roatan’s reefs and fund conservation activities directed by RMP.
Through a microgrant, CORAL provided the funding to purchase much of the initial merchandise, and also helped the RMP improve reporting procedures to maximize revenue. We also developed a business plan so they could better assess their opportunities for generating future profits for conservation.
Building on the success we’ve seen in other countries, CORAL collaborated with groups in the growing tourism destination of Amed on the island of Bali to create a voluntary user fee system. Dive tags can be purchased through local businesses, and revenue from the tags is invested back into conservation organizations for ongoing activities. We are currently working with partners to expand the scope of the user fee to the entire regency, increasing the benefit to local reefs.