Ocean Buddies: new partnership for regional marine conservation

Reef Conservation has been working with 85 primary schools to set up environmental corners. These consist of a small corner in a classroom with a mural, dry aquarium and posters, as well as an endemic garden outside. photo source: reefconservatiou.mu

Nature Seychelles and Reef Conservation (Mauritius) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will enable the two parties to work jointly in order to bolster the conservation work in the respective countries and in the region. The MoU which was signed on the 29th of September 2016 will assist in data sharing, exchange of knowledge and create projects that are mutually beneficial.

Reef Conservation is a Mauritius based organisation whose work is focused on protecting and restoring the marine environment through the implementation and management of various conservation projects and activities.

Although it was first established in 2004 as an association to carry out a program to deploy Fixed Mooring Buoys, Marine Conservation Management Consortium, as it was then known, has since expanded its scope to educating the public on the marine environment, creating voluntary conservation areas by working with fishermen and coastal communities, eco-guide youth training and working with the fisheries ministry to reinforce the capacity of Marine Protected areas.

 Francois Rogers,  Reef Conservation's President (L) and Dr Shah, Nature Seychelles CEO (R) signing the partnership agreement

“I met with Kathy Young, the Managing Director of Reef Conservation in Washington while attending Our Oceans Conference 2016. We started discussions right there and then on how we could work together considering the similarity of their work to our marine conservation work and the proximity of the two countries,” says Dr Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive.

Nature Seychelles, one of the largest environmental NGOs among the Western Indian Ocean island states, much like Reef Conservation has over the years developed and implemented projects to tackle various environment issues the Seychelles has been confronted with over the years. Hence The Reef Rescuers project which began in 2010.

With funding from the USAID and the GEF, the Reef Rescuers projects was initiated in response to coral bleaching resulting from rising sea temperatures. Through underwater coral gardening, this is the is the largest reef restoration project in the region with over 50,000 fragments of coral raised in underwater nurseries and a further 15,000 transplanted in a 5300 square meter area.

 The Reef Rescuers project had an 6 week long certified training in coral reef restoration in 2015, the first of its kind in the region 

“Mauritius like Seychelles are small island nations which depend heavily on the marine environment are particularly vulnerable to changes in the ecosystem and weather patterns, and therefore partnerships such as the one we have come into with Reef Conservation are important in efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change,” Shah explains.

“We cannot work in boxes because climate change affects all of us. We must share information and work on joint projects with other conservation organisations in the region if we hope to deliver any lasting solutions. We will collaborate with Reef Conservation not only on coral reef work but also we hope on other ocean issues such as sea turtle management in which we have lots of experience as we are managing the Western Indian Ocean’s most important Hawksbill turtle nesting site.”

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