Coral reef conservation has become a major concern in recent years, according to organizations like the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Tasked with focusing mainly on the conditions of the ocean and the atmosphere of the Earth, this institution has targeted the problem of coral reef disappearance around the world for decades. According to climate change theories and observational data from all the world’s oceans, the threat of diminishing coral reef resiliency is a real one, and measures are taken to help prevent the natural catastrophes that it might cause.
Coral reef conservation has become a necessity. Experts warn that the impairment associated with coral reef bleaching, increased ocean temperatures and unstable weather can impact the Earth’s ecosystem at a global scale. Even though coral reef formations can recover from bleaching over a longer period of time, the devastation caused in the meantime can have a severe impact on the ocean, as well as on humanity itself. Coral reefs assist with nutrient recycling and nitrogen fixing, and they also provide natural habitats for many thousands of species of marine creatures that are essential to the global food chain. Without coral reefs, coastlines will also be at a risk of being severely affected by powerful storms and devastating wave action, especially in tropical areas.
Since the year 2000, NOAA partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help coral conservation programs and coordinate with smaller institutions and companies to gradually slow the impact that fishing and pollution might have on the ocean’s most fragile ecosystems. The three most important areas of research have always been global climate change, unsustainable fishing practices and land-based pollution sources. Today, the projects supported by NOAA extend to many areas throughout the Caribbean, the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, including Puerto Rico, Florida, Mesoamerica, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the American Samoa.
NOAA has received more than $100 million in federal funding for its Coral Reef Conservation Program as early as 2003, and the organization is still under the spotlight, being known for some of the most important ongoing initiatives to help preserve and protect the integrity of coral reef formations from around the world. Recently, additional grands were offered, and NOAA has awarded more than $8.4 million in cooperative agreements, grants and conservation programs just last year. The scientific programs managed in Micronesia and the Caribbean and the projects involving the improvement of water quality in Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands all seem to be promising initiatives to protect coral reef environments. A good portion of NOAA’s funding is also going to education, with the intent of raising awareness about the importance of coral reef conservation worldwide.
Coral Reef Conservation Act
Since coral reefs have become one of the most endangered natural resources on the planet, the Coral Reef Conservation act, enacted in 2000, was approved to help start initiatives that would allow scientists to understand the processes that lead to the diminishing numbers of corals around the world, and counter the problem as effectively as possible. To this day, the act is responsible for many scientific research initiatives and the actions of various organizations and companies to help curb pollution and reduce the impact of overfishing practices.
During the time of its approval, the main purpose of the Coral Reef Conservation Act was to preserve and seek to restore the condition of coral reef systems to their former state. With coral populations dwindling in many areas of the world, the danger of completely losing these reefs would not merely impact marine life, but human life as well. Many fishing villages and even larger communities and countries depend on fishing and materials extracted from ocean-dwelling marine creatures for food, trade and other purposes. However, overfishing and pollution is threatening to eliminate these resources entirely, along with the diversity that makes up the ocean’s food web.
As a result of the concerns regarding the impact of coral reef destruction on marine animals and human populations, the Coral Reef Conservation Act was adopted to also gather scientific information on the problem, support various conservation efforts, offer financial support to relevant conservation initiatives, and coordinate with local communities and NGOs for the purpose of improving conservation in areas where the US Government has little or no influence. The main goal was, and still is, not only to observe and assess the situation through scientific means, but to launch internal and international initiatives for cooperating, funding and coordinating projects designed to improve mapping, water and air quality, education, fishing management, as well as the use of protected marine habitats as possible replenishment zones developed according to local regulations and traditions in the areas where they are located.
Unfortunately, the Conservation Act and those who sought to support and enact it faced many adversities and challenges from the start. Natural and human-induced stressors were involved, some of which still cannot be countered as efficiently as it should be needed. There is still no viable solution to global warming, and the pH changes and sea level rise associated with climate change impact the oceans of the entire world. Also, practices like cyanide and dynamite fishing are still practiced in some areas, despite the heavy restriction of destructive fishing practices. As a result, the work being done today to support the Coral Reef Conservation Act is still in its beginning stages, and significant funding is still required for all the adversities to be overcome.
Coral Reef Conservation Groups
Because of the numerous threats associated with the gradual decreasing of coral reef populations worldwide, many coral reef conservation groups have been set up to deal with the problem, either locally, on a national level, or even internationally. Many of these groups stress the importance of both education and involvement, and some of them have been around for decades. Below are discussed three of the most significant organizations and non-profit groups that have to do with the coral reef conservation effort, either by promoting raising awareness and conducting important research, or by supporting practical initiatives to preserve or restore coral reef populations in various areas.
One of the most recognized coral reef conservation groups is the Coral Cleanup Non-Profit Network. The network is an important resource that scholars and policy makers use when conducting their main research. The group focuses on the Coral Triangle region – an important area, triangular in shape, that contains the marine waters of the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. When it comes to studying the more than 500 species of coral reef residing in this area, the Coral Cleanup is where anyone from students to academics, scientists, coastal communities and local governments go to find their information.
Anyone interested in the scientific approach of countering the adverse human and non-human effects that have impacted coral reef populations on a global scale have to consider the research conducted by the NCRI (National Coral Reef Institute). This is one of the most reputable scientific institutions and coral reef conservation groups in the United States. Founded by Congress in 1998 to monitor, assess, understand and seek to protect and restore injured and dying coral, the group operates at the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, an important academic institution near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The organization is tasked to approach the coral reef conservation matter scientifically and come up with viable solutions for long-term management and conservation.
The Coral Restoration Foundation is an organization founded especially for the purpose of conserving coral reef populations. Its mandate is to create offshore nurseries and conservation programs designed to help restore threatened species of coral. They seek to prevent the extinction of endangered coral species and research vital countermeasures that could reverse the decline of coral populations throughout the Florida Keys and the entire Caribbean Sea. The Coral Restoration Foundation is one of the most loved coral reef conservation groups in the region, being supported by everyone from volunteers to scientists and donors who want to make a difference.
Coral Reef Conservation Methods
Whether through education or direct means, coral reef conservation methods are extremely important for the future preservation of coral reef populations both locally and on a national or global level. There are many institutions that already study the problem, and have found helpful on-site coral conservation means to explore, and experts also try to reach the populations that drive the demand for destructive fishing practices and help educate them. By getting directly involved in on-site coral conservation through voluntary work, getting informed about the conservation methods you can adopt by simply changing your eating habits, and reaching out to your local community, you too can be an important part of the movement for coral reef protection and conservation.
On-site coral reef conservation methods are normally established and enacted by governmental institutions, NGOs and coral conservation groups that perform local work, either through monitoring, research and other scientific activities, or through practical, hands-on means. The latter can involve the establishment of protected areas, methods for coral reef restoration and preservation, ecosystem based adaptation (EBA) and the petition for laws and regulations that restrict or inhibit destructive fishing or fishing in areas that are not fully protected as natural sanctuaries or heritage sites.
It is also important for coral reef conservation methods to be adopted by communities of people by regulating consumption of goods coming from or supporting the life of threatened and endangered species of coral. Coral conservation groups advise people to choose seafood wisely and seek to become informed regarding the species of fish and other marine creatures that have an impact on coral development. By saying no to your next parrotfish meals and choosing something other than coral reef shark at the local seafood restaurant, you can contribute to reducing the demand for these types of sea creatures and curb future overfishing practices. For this purpose, widespread education regarding community efforts for coral reef conservation is highly essential.
An informed and engaged public can make intelligent decisions regarding the practices that normally harm the vital coral reef populations that so many of the ocean’s most important creatures depend on. Technological tools and resources such as online data centers and research sources, as well as local initiatives by NGOs are among the best conservation methods, because they help to raise awareness about the problems that we all face as a result of coral reef depletion and inform people about the measures they can take to make a stand. This is the most important of all coral reef conservation methods to follow, since if enough people were empowered with the right knowledge about protecting coral reef populations, many of the environmental issues surrounding this concern would evaporate.
Padi Coral Reef Conservation
When it comes to PADI, coral reef conservation is not the first topic that comes to mind when you hear the name of the organization. Nevertheless, due to its popularity, the famous training center for divers has more influence on educating divers and people of all ages, as well as raising awareness about important concerns regarding coral reef protection, than many NGOs and coral conservation groups. Their highly instructional course dedicated to coral conservation is one of the more well-known initiatives for promoting the protection of coral reef populations worldwide.
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is the largest recreational diving instruction membership and organization in the world, and it’s been around since 1966. In recent years, the institution has also played an important role in helping to raise awareness about coral reef conservation, especially through initiatives like the PADI coral reef conservation courses. The course is for people of any age, gender or background who are interested in scuba diving, snorkeling or underwater photography, and would like to learn more about coral reef conservation and the measures they can take to protect coral formations. Virtually anyone who has even a remote interest in the aquatic world can take part in these family-friendly courses, and can learn a lot about the underwater world, the nature and development of coral reefs and their respective food webs, and about the important initiatives having to do with helping coral reefs survive.
PADI coral reef conservation initiatives will teach you all about coral reef formations, how they develop, and the complex nature of their interaction with other marine, coastal and beach ecosystems. You will find out exactly why corals are so important and what makes so many coral species threatened and endangered. Finally, the courses will focus on educating divers about the elaborate methods of protecting coral reefs, preventing further damage and engaging in important initiatives and practices designed for coral reef conservation.
Enrolling into a PADI conservation course is entirely easy. If you’re used to taking part in dives organized by PADI, you can find out about course dates and schedules by asking the organizers. Courses are affordable and available in multiple languages at many of the PADI centers from around the world. There is also an online manual available on the PADI website that interested course participants can read in anticipation of the course itself. The PADI coral reef conservation course allows you to obtain a non-diving certification that requires no knowledge of diving and no special prerequisites.
Ways To Conserve The Coral Reef
According to many experts, people’s activities can have a strong impact on the environment even from thousands of miles away, which is why it’s a good idea to look up the top ways to conserve coral reefs that even regular individuals could consider. Although many believe that conserving coral reefs and helping them survive depends mainly on scientists, government entities and large non-profit organizations,
Reducing pollution and using less water are two of the main ways to conserve coral reefs indirectly. People who live far away from the sea or ocean may think that they have no way of influencing what happens to coral reef populations. However, these two simple practices can accomplish a lot. Reduced pollution can impact the entire ecosystem, not just your local area. If your local river can be free from pollution, that water will no longer have a negative impact on the reef once it spills into the ocean. Also, toxins and artificial compounds consumed by animals can rapidly spread to populations of birds and mammals that live by the sea. Finally, by reducing water consumption you also reduce the amount of waste water that is dumped into the sea on a regular basis.
Some of the best ways to conserve coral reefs is to avoid practices such as fishing or boating near a coral reef and keeping up with safe and responsible diving methods. Avoid pulling on coral reef formations, and make sure to practice snorkeling closer to shore before venturing near the reef. Diving instructors often have coral reef conservation and protection courses, and some reef areas have signs that notify locals and visitors to avoid fishing near the reef. However, enforcing these practices can be extremely difficult, so it’s up to each person to get informed and engage in responsible practices that, if enough people were to do the same, would positively impact coral reef growth in just a few years.
Other means of coral reef conservation also include volunteering, taking action to avoid supporting damaging fishing practices and contacting your local government officials to urge them to take action. In some cases, you may be able to influence local NGOs and government organizations to organize coral reef cleanups in your local area, if you live close to the ocean shore. Another means of aiding the protection of coral reefs is to support reef-friendly businesses and educate people about the dos and don’ts of reef protection. Education is probably the best of all ways to conserve coral reefs effectively for a long time to come.