Mapping Acroporid Corals in Tobago

The mass mortality of acroporid corals in the 1970s and 80s transformed Caribbean reefs. Around this time, coral reef research had just begun in Tobago. Declines have been attributed to overfishing, pollution, sea urchin and coral disease, and climate change. Buccoo Reef Marine Park, in the southwest of Tobago, has long been the most visited reef, and likewise the most negatively impacted by human activities. The loss of acroporids has profoundly altered the structure and functioning of Caribbean reef ecosystems, as this species grows up to10 times faster and taller than other Caribbean coral species and disproportionately contributes to reef architectural complexity and carbonate production. Anthropogenic threats were curbed thanks to reduced tourism throughout the Pandemic, and we prepose to re-investigate the coral reef resilience and growth at the Buccoo Reef Marine Park, as well as advocate for improved reef management and protection within the local community.
Problem solved by your proposal
Coastal Communities in Tobago are most affected by coral reef decline and its negative impacts. In particular, the Buccoo Reef community faces threats to its homes and livelihoods, as a result of coastal erosion, reduced fish populations, and increased vulnerabilities of coastline to natural disasters, such as storm surges. Large expanses of coral had died off due to bleaching, climate warming, tourism activities and sewage flows directly into the Buccoo Reef. There is a lack of current data for us to fully understand and map the recovery of these coral populations, and thus an adequate reef management strategy cannot be established. By providing this information, coastal communities can be fully informed moving forward to take effective protection measures.
What positive impact would/does your idea have on your community? Specific environmental or social improvements
By overcoming the lack of data on the extent of reef recovery, scientists and community members alike can contribute to more informed decision making with regards to reef management and the protection of coastal livelihoods. Recovery in the acroporid coral population will 1) benefit the fishing community by acting as a nursery for fish, including parrot fish, which are responsible for the production of sand; 2) mitigate erosion by re-establishing barriers to wave action, dissipating wave energy, and acting as a natural coastal defence; 3) empowering the local community to play an active role in reef management.
Why are you interested in taking part in environment and ocean-related matters?
Our organization, Sustainable Solutions for Island Development Ltd. is an avid advocate for the Blue Economy and ocean sustainability. The ocean, making up 70% of our planet’s surface, is our greatest resource. We as an organization recognize that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) can make exponential gains if they apply their efforts correctly. The ocean is a shared resource. It regulates our climate, provides 50% of the oxygen we breathe, and is the primary source of food and nutrition for millions of people around the globe. As such, protecting ocean health should be everyone’s priority- not the work of a select few. It is important that citizens understand how our social, economic and environmental well-being is linked to the ocean. Those chosen to govern the use of ocean resources must be adequately informed and encouraged. For this, we believe data, education and social inclusion are paramount.
SDG most related to the proposal
SDG 14: Life below water
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Excellent idea. Obtaining data on situations is essential for making decisions.
2 years ago