Here at CORAL, summer travel is in full swing. During recent weeks, our staff from around the world have amplified CORAL’s mission to save coral reefs by taking part in various conservation events.
We believe it’s vital to collaborate with organizations and leaders in science and conservation to enhance our work, share knowledge, and ultimately take effective actions to protect the world’s coral reefs.
Check out where we’ve made a splash, with the latest news from our staff:
Senior Leadership Attend the UN Ocean Conference
During the week of June 27, senior staff Jenny Myton and Mandy Norman represented CORAL at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. The event was an opportunity for policy leaders to set pledges, as well as for NGOs and conservationists to present and learn from one another.
CORAL stood alongside the Ocean Sewage Alliance, as members presented on the impact of water pollution and the need for effective sewage management models. Meanwhile, both Myton and Norman engaged with foundations and oversea development agencies to expand upon our work.
“In addition to collaboration opportunities, one of my highlights was hearing from Sylvia Earle. She is an accomplished oceanographer and Ted Prize winner,” says Myton. “We left feeling so inspired by her words and urgent call to action.”
Concluding the week, various nations made pledges to expand upon Marine Protected Areas in order to reduce pollution, loss of biodiversity, overfishing, and other ocean threats. “If these pledges are implemented and maintained, they will help improve conditions for coral reefs and ultimately protect more than a million marine species,” says Myton.
Science Conservation Staff Present at ICRS
Not long after the UN Ocean Conference, Dr. Helen Fox and Dr. Andrea Rivera-Sosa from CORAL’s Global Science Conservation team made their way to Germany for the 15th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS). The event was an opportunity for coral reef scientists and marine managers to come together and share new innovations, data, and research.
Fox and Rivera-Sosa presented updates on their research, and also led a workshop along with counterpart Brianna Bambic on the Allen Coral Atlas, the world’s first comprehensive map of shallow water coral reefs, and its bleaching monitoring tool. They also met with other coral scientists and conservation leaders, both during formal sessions and outside of the conference.
“It was so great to finally connect with other scientists in person again,” says Rivera-Sosa. “I had the chance to get the word out about the Allen Coral Atlas and other CORAL projects, as well as learn about new research and science.”
Team Hawai‘i Advocates for Clean Water at the HRWA Conference
Next, we traveled within Hawai‘i for the Hawai‘i Rural Water Association (HRWA) Conference. Roughly 200 water and wastewater professionals attended and both Jennifer Vander Veur and Erica Perez, Hawai‘i’s senior program managers, gave presentations about our work in Maui and Hawai‘i Island.
Vander Veur and Perez demonstrated the repercussions of poor water quality as a result of land-based pollution. Sedimentation and wastewater pollution are negatively impacting Hawai‘i’s coral reef ecosystems, and CORAL is leading initiatives that tackle the problem. Vander Veur focused on watershed management and detailed ways sediment runoff is impacting our downstream water resources, while Perez led a workshop on Hawai‘i’s transition away from cesspools, which everyday discharge roughly 53 million gallons of raw sewage into groundwater and nearshore systems across the state.
By attending this technical conference, our field staff gathered valuable insights from industry professionals which can better inform Hawai‘i’s state working groups and ultimately implement effective water and sanitation solutions across the state.
Principal Program Coordinator for the North Coast in Honduras Travels for a Leadership Program
To top off CORAL’s summer travel, Julio San Martin Chicas, CORAL’s principal program coordinator for the North Coast in Honduras, was accepted into the prestigious U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program to represent Honduras in the program “Resilience, Protection and Environmental Conservation.” He recently traveled to multiple cities across the U.S. for this three-week exchange.
Joined by professionals across Latin America, San Martin Chicas participated in programs that pertained to U.S. policies and made meaningful connections that will improve and build upon local conservation initiatives in Honduras.
“I am so proud of Julio and how far he’s come as both a professional and representative for CORAL,” says Dr. Antonella Rivera, who named for San Martin Chicas the program. “This was a very competitive program, which our field team in Honduras nominated him for.”
Without a doubt, it’s been an impactful summer. We are thrilled to travel again and have the opportunity to share our message with new audiences, collaborate with like-minded groups, and take meaningful steps toward saving the world’s coral reefs.