Since 2014, the CORAL Conservation Prize has been awarded annually to an individual who has proven to be an outstanding leader in the conservation of coral reefs. The CORAL Prize is a unique opportunity to recognize the people that are truly making a difference in the future of coral reefs, and applicants are nominated by a member of their community for their achievements and dedication. This year, we are honored to present Komeno Roberto Jean Luc (Roberto) as our 2018 CORAL Conservation Prize winner.
Roberto grew up in Atsimo Andrefana, (Southwest) Madagascar, an area struck by immense poverty but surrounded by some of the most beautiful and diverse coral reefs. Roberto’s dedication to coral reefs and his community has been proven time and time again through his work as Head Scientific Advisor at Reef Doctor, a UK-based non-profit conservation and social development organization, and over his 18 years at the Institute of Fisheries and Marine Sciences in Toliara Madagascar. Roberto leads Reef Doctor’s diverse conservation and development projects including; aquaculture, reef restoration, marine reserve management, and research. He is one of only of 4% of the population of Atsimo Andrefana to obtain a university education; he holds a Masters in Applied Oceanography from the University of Toliara and a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Antananarivo.
Roberto has worked on a wide range of conservation efforts including monitoring coral bleaching, managing and developing marine protected areas and protecting and monitoring seagrass. His research yields important science-based information for all partners and has pioneering new techniques and pushed the boundaries of development and coral research in Madagascar.
Roberto is both an integral member of the reef conservation community and an outstanding leader in his community. Atsimo Andrefana is a rural area where over 70% of the population has received less than 4 years of education and 88% of the population is identified as living in either severe or acute poverty, according to an Alkire and Santos Multidimensional Poverty Index assessment. Through his work at Reef Doctor, Roberto has worked closely with the local fishing communities to provide the skills and tools to the local community to protect and manage their marine and terrestrial ecosystems and support the livelihood of around 200,000 rural fishers threatened by declining fishery yields and degraded marine habitats. This, in turn, improves the well being of the impoverished rural communities as well as the natural environment and resources they depend upon, which are largely threatened by degradation and over-exploitation.
Roberto’s commitment to leadership in both coral reef conservation and within his community has helped save coral reefs in Madagascar and serves as an inspiration to all who love and depend on coral reefs.