2015 Fellowship: Coral Reef Management for Sustainable Development
Coral reefs and the millions of people who depend upon them face unprecedented challenges. Therefore coral reef managers need to be more resourceful, more creative, and more skilled than ever. The problem for most people involved in coral reef management is the limited number of opportunities for formal learning and ongoing professional development.
For three weeks in June 2015, Reef Ecologic held a training program in North Queensland, Australia to provide a template for filling this gap. Titled “Coral Reef Management for Sustainable Development,” the program brought 12 marine park managers from the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Oceans to the shores of the Great Barrier Reef to learn the latest in coral reef research, management and leadership.
Support was provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the University of Queensland, James Cook University (JCU) and local industries and marine groups. The program is the first of its kind to be funded by the Australia Awards Fellowship.
All participants were selected by regional organisations as current or emerging leaders, and were trained in contemporary environmental leadership. The Fellows visited government departments, research stations and reef-dependent businesses from Townsville, Mission Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas. They met the people and visited the habitats that make the Great Barrier Reef so special.
The program included a visit to Orpheus Island Research Station (OIRS), where many Fellows had their first snorkeling experiences on the Great Barrier Reef. At OIRS, the Fellows participated in an intensive leadership course directed by Inner Compass. In Cairns, the Fellows visited Michaelmas Cay on the dive vessel Passions of Paradise. They snorkeled shallow reefs with diverse coral and rich fish communities, and observed tourism operators removing the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) from popular dive sites. The following day the Fellows experienced more than 20 meters of visibility, 100% coral cover, sharks, turtles and big fish at Flynn Reef on their trip aboard Silver Swift. They participated in coral surveys and learned about the Eye on the Reef citizen science program developed by GBRMPA. The final day on the reef was an afternoon trip to Low Isles offshore from Port Douglas with Sailaway.
Almost 50 experts from GBRMPA, James Cook University (JCU), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), private industry and NGOs interacted with the Fellows to discuss marine parks, aquaculture, tourism, fisheries, coral, starfish, climate change, citizen science, communication and much more. These interactions included a lecture series held at ReefHQ, a VIP tour during AIMS Open Day, and visits to local industries such as Cairns Marine.
After such a successful training program, Reef Ecologic is looking forward to its next cohort of coral reef managers.
Some of the comments from the participants as they reflected on the value of this training opportunity:
· “Reef Ecologic has started something unique and vital for emerging leaders and coral reef managers.”
· “This program has been a highlight. We are full of ideas and energized.”
· “Thanks for putting together such an intense and informative training; I have learned a lot of new information!”
· “Thank you for the excellent training and excellent arrangements.”
Communication and outreach conducted during the program:
International media articles
"Jamaicans Selected for International Coral Reef Management Fellowship"
"Guyanese Scientist on Global Sustainability Fellowship in Australia"
IUCN Press Release
The Ocean Project coverage
World Ocean Day video
WIN News coverage
Australian media articles
Press Release from TropWATER, James Cook University
For more information about the program and future training opportunities, visit www.reefecologic.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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