January 16, 2018

Coral Reef, BVI

During the November General Meeting in Paris two years ago, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), an informal partnership between Nations and organizations that strives to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world, declared 2018 as the third International Year of the Reef. The previous years were 1997 and 2008. This dedication was in response to the increasing threats to and loss of coral reefs around the world in the hopes of increasing awareness and understanding about coral reefs and in support of international conservation, research, and management efforts. While previous years proved successful, with more than 65 countries participating in conservation, education, and research projects, it is the desire of the ICRI to broaden their reach in 2018 by encouraging government and non-government organizations to:

  • strengthen awareness globally about the value of, and threats to, coral reefs and associated ecosystems (mangroves and seagrasses);
  • promote partnerships between governments, the private sector, academia and civil society on the management of coral reefs;
  • identify and implement effective management strategies for conservation, increased resiliency and sustainable use of these ecosystems and promoting best practices;
  • and share information on best practices in relation to sustainable coral reef management.

What does any of this mean to me, to you, to anyone? Well, if you’re an avid beach-goer, snorkeler, scuba diver, consumer of seafood, or you just appreciate the natural wonders of this planet, it’s a call to action. It is a reminder that one of the most diverse ecosystems on this planet is suffering and requires a little TLC from all of us.

What can you do? You can share what you know. No, I’m not talking facts and figures (but feel free if you’ve got them!); I’m talking stories. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers why you care about the health and well-being of the coral reef. Share your experiences with them and maybe they’ll be curious enough to want to learn more or visit a coral reef on their own. Seeing is believing.

Coral Reef, Indonesia Learn more about coral reefs yourself, then share what you learned. Did you know that coral reefs take up less than 2% of the ocean floor, but are home to more than 25% of the ocean’s biodiversity? One quarter of all the animals that live in the ocean make their home on the reef. The Indo-Pacific, where the Indian and Pacific Oceans meet, is one of the most species-rich locations on the planet. Known as the coral triangle, this area has more species of fish and coral than anywhere on the planet. Educate yourself about the coral reefs of the world, then share what you know. Encourage others to learn more about reefs and the role they play in maintaining the health of the ocean.

Go check one out for yourself, and bring your friends! There is no time like the present to visit a coral reef. Coral reefs generate millions in tourist revenue, so use your dollars to demonstrate the value of a healthy coral reef to the state or nation you want to visit. Leave a Yelp or Google review sharing your experience and your opinion about the state of the reef. We live in a well-connected world. Your voice matters. Use it.

2018 is the International Year of the Reef.

Spread the word.

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