The Importance of Coral Reefs – Value, Threats, Actions To Take

Initiatives we can support include:

  • Disposing of our garbage properly – it often ends up in the ocean, becoming harmful to the environment and to you! This includes supporting recycling activities.
  • Adhering to fisheries laws and regulations and practicing sustainable fishing
  • Reducing critical habitat destruction- e.g. clearing mangroves or seagrass beds for construction
  • Practicing sustainable and climate smart agriculture – e.g. Using more natural fertilizers and pesticides as well as conserving water
  • Ensuring industrial waste disposal and household sewage management systems are up to code, and not flowing into our oceans, rivers and streams.
  • Protection, restoration and monitoring of coral reefs

Other

  • When in the ocean, observe corals without touching them – they are fragile
  • Support community-based businesses that give back to marine conservation
  • Discourage mangrove clearing in your communities
  • Don’t remove seagrass
  • Don’t purchase undersized or out of season seafood products- give the juveniles time to grow and let the adults have a chance to reproduce.
  • Use less plastics, Styrofoam and single use containers – they decompose extremely slowly and often end up in our oceans
  • Know where your seafood comes from and purchase responsibly
  • Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – sometimes less is more…

Know more about the role you can play in marine conservation by learning and helping to educate others about good environmental practices – our actions on land have impacts in the oceans even if we can’t see it.

TNC is partnering with some of the world’s best coral science organizations, to try to scale up coral reef protection, restoration and monitoring efforts in the Caribbean to levels that are relevant to today’s coral crisis. The aim is to use the latest science and technology to pursue proactive coral reef restoration in the Caribbean on a scale large enough to compete with global threats like climate change. In addition, TNC is advancing protection and monitoring initiatives that help safeguard coral reefs from local stressors, like overfishing and sediment runoff, to directly benefit surrounding marine environments and the communities that depend on them.

Coral gardeners in Bluefields Bay Fish Sanctuary cleaning corals in a nursery. Photo: © Tim Calver

In Jamaica, TNC has been involved in coral restoration, sustainable fisheries, MPA establishment and capacity building initiatives.  Our work has included support for fish sanctuary wardens and community members in the Bluefields Fish Sanctuary to become coral gardeners with the ability to grow and maintain corals in nurseries.

Over the past 3 years, this initiative has resulted in over 700 coral fragments growing in nurseries and being out planted to nearby reefs.

Coral fragments. Photo: © Tim Calver

TNC Jamaica has also worked to train hundreds of Pedro Bank fishers in sustainable fishing techniques, such as measuring lobsters caught to ensure they are above the minimum legal size before retaining them for sale and encouraging spear fishers to target lionfish for the local market. The Conservancy also supported the management of the South West Cay Fish Sanctuary on the Pedro Bank (Jamaica’s only offshore sanctuary) as well as carried out capacity building of MPA staff to improve management effectiveness.

This post appears courtesy of The Nature Conservancy (TNC).  To learn about TNC’s work in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, visit The Nature Conservancy website, on Instagram and Facebook