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Coral Reef Working Group

Purpose

To provide advice to improve coral reef management effectiveness and “Call for Actions” based on precautionary principles, scientific facts, and lessons learned from case studies.

We will involve SCB members, practitioners, and students within a participatory process that will engage communities and decision makers at the coral reefs of the world.

 

Scope

This working group will work toward integrating coral reef conservation science into policy and management actions, while engaging students and early career conservationists to build capacity in coral reef conservation.

Its activities will serve coral reef conservation based on high quality science at local, national, and international scales through publications and social and standard media; provide guidance to both governmental and non-governmental conservation work on coral reefs;

connect scientists with conservation practitioners and policy makers and work at all scales to conserve coral reefs in the face of both local and global stressors.

Rationale

Coral reefs are one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on the planet, providing habitat for over one million species, and food and livelihood for humans around the world. Over 500 million people globally rely on reefs for food, income, coastal protection and other provisioning, cultural and regulating services, or other services. According to the World Wildlife Fund, WWF, the economic value of goods and services of the ocean has been estimated to produce USD $ 2.5 trillion annually. Conserving coral reefs are essential to preserve the biodiversity of life on this earth, and to ensure the food security, livelihood and cultural wellbeing of human society.

Because healthy ecosystems have a higher resiliency and better ability to bounce back from disturbance, supporting and improving the health of coral reefs through informed conservation and management, the better reef ecosystems will be able to cope with the stressors caused by anthropogenic, both local (overfishing, pollution) and global (climate change). Most importantly, through strategically addressing local stressors and their impacts on coral reef ecosystems, we can improve the chances of coral reefs surviving in the changing conditions brought about by climate change.

The total economic value of coral reefs ranges from US $ 100,000 to 600,000 per square kilometer per year, providing ecosystem services including provisioning services (such as fisheries), regulating services (coastal protection), supporting services (nutrient recycling) and cultural services (spiritual and recreational). However, these ecosystem services are best provided by healthy coral reefs, and unfortunately corals are experiencing precipitous declines worldwide.

Coral reefs are the marine flag-bearer for biodiversity, but also the marine ecosystem that is most obviously and negatively impacted by climate change (e.g. coral bleaching, sea level rise, and ocean acidification).

70% of the world's reefs are already threatened or destroyed, and in the Caribbean region alone some important reef-building coral species have experienced a 98% reduction in population. In the Pacific, coral reefs endured in 2016 one of the most severe bleaching events recorded so far. Local stressors, such as overfishing, pollution and sedimentation that threaten the persistence of functioning coral reefs, should be reduced or avoided as soon as possible. These facts make coral reefs a conservation priority which deserves a coherent and consistent approach that draws from the spectrum of ecological, economic and social knowledge represented by SCB members to perform effective conservation through multidisciplinary research, action, advocacy, communication and education. With coral reef ecosystems present in six out of the seven sections of SCB, a working group that cuts across sections is an appropriate way to focus the activities of coral reef conservation scientists and practitioners and provide effective conservation of this critical ecosystem.

The Coral Reef Working Group aims to provide advice, opportunities and a forum for coral all those involved in coral reef science to effectively communicate, collaborate and work to improve reef conservation  through policy, science and education. By promoting the work of the SCB through this working group at International Meetings, we can also help expand the member base of SCB and increase our impact globally to improve coral reef management effectiveness.

Proposed activities

  • Engage students and early career conservationists to build capacity in coral reef conservation through, for example, workshops, mentorships, and research opportunities.
  • Educate the public through social and standard media and through outreach activities on the need to conserve coral reefs, and to provide an outlet to promote the work reef scientists, NGOs, and managers are conducting. WG activities will be released in several languages, as far as possible, including English, French, Spanish, and others depending on members’ skills.
  • Provide other committees and sections with coral-reef specifics for possible action (through the SCB Policy Committee, SCB regional sections, and relevant e-lists, such as Coral-List, GCFI-List, CAMPAM-List and traditional and social media).
  • Act as a bridge between SCB and groups particularly focused on coral reef conservation and management, such as ICRI and ISRS, to promote coral reef management effectiveness at governmental (i.e. decision makers) and community levels by the production and dissemination of scientific, citizen-based, and traditional knowledge of coral reefs.
  • Present statements/release announcements, symposia, workshops, and capacity building activities at international meetings
  • Use online media to communicate coral reef science to a lay and non-specialist audience

Agenda

  • September – December 2016. Conduct a systematic survey to identify mismatches, lack of outreach and other potential barriers to effective science-based management of coral reefs. We aim to publish an article in an appropriate peer-reviewed journal (e.g., Coral Reefs, Conservation Biology) with these results and potential action areas.
  • October 2016: Begin construction of a portal to allow younger coral reef conservation professionals to solicit advice from more experienced members of the group.
  • October 2016 : ongoing: provide monthly summaries of important developments in reef science and conservation, including lay summaries of important papers
  • November 2016 – ongoing: post and share short (< 5 min) videos of reef conservation practitioners and scientists discussing their work
  • November 2016: Submit a proposal for a coral reef conservation symposium to the 10th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference to be held in Tahiti in 2016.
  • Participate and make the WG visible in forthcoming relevant meetings (Indo-Pacific Reef Fish 2017, ICCB 2017 – July23-27, Reef Conservation UK annual conference December 2016)