December 2017 – International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) – 32 General Meeting, Nairobi, Kenya

Picture of the outside garden of the UN Office in Nairobi where the ICRI General Meeting took place.

The 32nd ICRI General Meeting took place from the 7th to the 9th December 2017 at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya where The Reef-World Foundation as Members of ICRI were invited to present as part of ICRI Goal 4 – ‘Promote the deployment of mooring devices limiting the mechanical destruction of coral reefs and seagrasses.’

The presentation titled ‘Green Fins – Addressing the threat from anchor damage’ was a way to showcase the extensive work of the Green Fins members in how they are able to mitigate their impact from anchor damage under the Green Fins Code of Conduct number 5 – Participate in the development and implementation of a mooring buoy program and actively use moorings, drift or hand place anchors. Using the data from the assessments across all countries, Reef-World were able to demonstrate after a period of a few years, the threat from anchors and associated practices decreased with exposure to the Green Fins initiative. In addition to the data, Reef-World were able to present specific management approaches from industry businesses as a way to reduce the vast damage caused by anchoring on coral reefs and other critical marine ecosystems. This included case studies of Green Fins members partnering with local government departments who can provide the materials (buoys and ropes) for the dive centres to be able to install the moorings in situations where government staff do not have the skills and resources to do so. Specific actions such as boat crew being informed by management to drift dive or to moor up to another dive boat where moorings are not available were other commonly used approaches that were highlighted to the ICRI members.

Information on a new type of ‘Eco-mooring’ was also highlighted as a case study where the mooring block acts as a substrate to attract coral growth and encourage a habitat for fish whilst retaining its purpose as a solid structure for the mooring line to be attached to.

It is hopeful that many of the ICRI member states will take these ideas back to their countries to try and implement such practices, especially in non-active Green Fins countries where a management team has yet to be established.

During this General Meeting, a series of ad-hoc committees were developed to address the various Goals of the Plan of Action for 2016-2018 under the 5 Themes.  In collaboration with the UK government  (DEFRA) and the French government, The Reef-World Foundation have also agreed to be part of a the ‘Green Marine Construction Ad Hoc Committee. The main objective is to provide ICRI Members guidelines to develop eco-design marine construction. The committee will work closely with other initiatives which are looking into this area with input from Green Fins members directly.

The ad hoc committee will implement the following activities:

  • Develop some guidelines on Green Marine Construction, focusing initially on eco-mooring
  • Gathering additional case studies to develop a portfolio
  • Develop a dedicated page on the ICRI website

Lastly, a proposal submitted under the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and UN Environment Grants Programme 2017, was selected as one of 33 projects (out of 230 submissions) that will be put forward for funding to potential donors. The project titled ‘The Green Fins approach to managing a sustainable marine tourism industry in the Caribbean’ is a pilot scale implementation of the Green Fins initiative within a site level of a single country, possibly the Dominican Republic or another country in the region that is experiencing high levels of SCUBA diving activities in areas of high coral cover.

The next General Meeting will take place towards the end of 2018, in either Monaco or Australia, who have volunteered to co-host as the next Secretariat as is tradition within the International Coral Reef Initiative.

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