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Wednesday
Feb072018

International Year of the  Reef

At the beginning of this year, the International Coral Reef Initiative announced 2018 to be the third International Year of the Reef (IYOR). This means many exciting things in the world of marine conservation; a designated IYOR aims to strengthen awareness globally about the value of, and threats to coral reefs and associated ecosystems. It also aims to promote partnerships between governments, the private sector and academia, along with the public, to create more effective and cohesive management plans for coral reefs. Other targets for this year are to identify and implement more effective conservation management strategies to increase resilience of these ecosystems and improve the sustainability of the use of coral reefs. The IYOR also encourages us all, as marine conservationists to share all information we may have gathered on best practices in relation to sustainable reef management.

What an International Year of the Reef means for FJM

Here at FJM we work hard to study and understand the roles of locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) on coral reef ecosystems. These areas are non-legal, designated areas that often impose various activity restrictions, such as no-fishing, in order to conserve the marine ecosystem; they are respected and adhered to under a mutual understanding between communities, rather than legally enforced. The IYOR has motivated us all here to continue to collect highly detailed data upon the ecosystems in Beqa Lagoon inside and outside the LMMA’s; in order to continue and improve our evaluations of the effects that this management strategy has on the marine ecosystem.  

Alongside scientifically evaluating the management strategies used within Beqa Lagoon, FJM also work hard to educate local communities in sustainable, reef-friendly practices. Our staff and RA’s conduct workshops for young school children on how their own individual behaviour can impact a marine ecosystem and inform them on ways they can change their behaviour to save their oceans. 2018 will also see a push on our Mangrove project, with 3 – 4 restoration sites around Beqa, that will have the first steps of a restored mangrove community established this year. A strong and healthy Mangrove forest is arguably the best, and one of the most natural ways to protect a coral reef from anthropogenic stressors.

Globally, we are at a crucial part in the life-histories of our oceans, with coral bleaching and death reaching unprecedented levels, however, all hope is not yet lost!

2018 is set to be a benchmark year for marine conservation and coral reefs around the world, and all of the team here at FJM are very happy to be playing our part!

By Abbie Dosell - Fiji Marine Senior Research Officer

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