Experts convene in bid to restore, reinvigorate coral reef


A “meeting of hope” is how Scott Winters termed it during the opening remarks of Reef Futures 2018 on Dec. 11 at Ocean Reef.

With 500 in attendance, the symposium from Dec. 10-14 is bringing experts and leading scientists from 40 countries to share the latest science and techniques for coral reef restoration while kicking off a global effort to scale up restoration as a tool for coral reef conservation and management.

The symposium, put on by the Coral Restoration Consortium, focused on the role of restoration in reef management and conservation, best restoration practices, interventions in context of a changing planet and demonstrating the value and efficacy of restoration and interventions.

Winters, who’s co-chair of Coral Restoration Consortium and CEO of Coral Restoration Foundation, said it’s not too late for intervention and not too late to save coral reefs. Winters said the room full of people is passionate and engaged in saving the reef.

The Coral Restoration Consortium (CRC) is made up of scientists, managers, coral restoration practitioners and educators, dedicated to enabling coral reef ecosystems to survive the 21st century and beyond. Its mission is to bring collaboration among participants and facilitate scientific ingenuity to demonstrate that restoration can be achieved.

“It really is amazing the community we have here, of people working every day to save coral reefs,” Winters said. “This week, we have the opportunity to connect not just with people you might know. I’m hoping it catalyzes new connections and to learn from one another.”

Even though individuals may differ on details related to coral reef restoration, Winters said, they’re all on the same team as they work to make a difference. Winters said the more those in coral restoration work as one community, the greater their impact.

Tom Moore, consortium co-chair and coral reef restoration program manager with NOAA, has been a tireless advocate and champion of the coral reefs, according to Winters. In his remarks, Moore noted how a small group gathered two years ago in Fort Lauderdale to discuss forming a restoration community. And two years later, a global gathering was held for the first time.

“It’s remarkable and exceeded my wildest expectations,” Moore said. “The driving force behind our success isn’t a logo or organizational name; it’s everyone in the room to work collectively as one team. We are working collectively to make a difference.”

Speakers included Buki Rinkevich, of the National Institute of Oceanography in Israel, who discussed coral restoration activities. Sarah Fangman, superintendent of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, spoke on the reef system in the Keys and the challenges faced.

Ilsa Kuffner of the U.S. Geological Survey, Reed Noss of the Florida Institute of Conservation Science and Line Bay, research scientist with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, also spoke during the symposium.

The Reef Futures Symposium is presented by NOAA and Australian Government Reef Restoration and Adaption Program and hosted by the Coral Restoration Consortium, Coral Restoration Foundation, and Ocean Reef Club. Sponsors include Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, The Henry Foundation, The Ocean Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Paul Allen Philanthropies, International Society for Reef Studies, Mote Marine Lab, SECORE International and Herbert W. Hoover Foundation.

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy is a Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 3-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, mixed martial arts and golf. He loves to hit the links and play some softball with his Make A Play team. He also enjoys time with family (he's expecting a little boy in October).

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