Trinidad & Tobago looks to partnerships to help protect its coral reefs

Coral on a reef in Tobago. Photo by Jenni Konrad on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

By Glendon Glasgow

This story was first published on Cari-Bois Environmental News Network. A version of the article is republished below as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Trinidad and Tobago's Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) recently partnered with government, private sector and community-based organisations to build its capacity in rehabilitating coral reefs and seagrass beds, which have faced unprecedented levels of degradation in the face of climate change and human activities like over-fishing and pollution. The idea was to discover to what extent collaboration might yield encouraging results when it comes to protecting and conserving wildlife.

When the water in which they live gets too warm, corals become stressed and start to bleach, which leaves them more vulnerable to disease and die-off. Over time, coral bleaching leads to a decline in the population of fish and other sea creatures that call the reef home.

The IMA soon discovered that these types of partnerships were an important step towards promoting wildlife conservation, securing the well-being of marine ecosystems and their inhabitants, since coral reefs play a key role in maintaining the well-being of marine ecosystems.

Such collaborations also have the potential to deliver long-term biodiversity conservation and restoration of these ecosystems by avoiding loss through a combination of strengthening ocean stewardship, restoring Tobago’s marine biodiversity in particular, and building sustainable ocean resilience.

Serving as a hub for the mating and feeding of species, reefs provide a safe place for young fish to grow and mature. Given that they provide habitat, food, and protection for marine species, they are also critical contributors to the protection of oceans as a whole. Their continued destruction has the potential to displace countless sea creatures and disrupt the delicate balance of underwater ecosystems.

Regular citizens can also contribute to coral reef protection by reducing their carbon footprint, properly disposing of waste, and practising sustainable fishing. Substantial conservation efforts and the creation of marine protected areas can also help to ensure that coral reefs continue to thrive and protect the ocean for generations to come, so that they, too, can experience their wonders.

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