A New Push to Regrow Caribbean Reefs

caribbean reefs

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Recent years have seen the growth of a number of initiatives aimed at regrowing coral reef in the Caribbean — most notably the Coral Restoration Foundation in Bonaire.

Now, another drive has launched to help rebuild coral reefs.

The nonprofit Tourism Cares, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), and the Grupo Puntacana Foundation in the Dominican Republic have partnered on a Coral Restoration Capacity Building Project to assist three Caribbean destinations whose reefs suffered serious damage during last year’s hurricanes.

Two individuals each from Dominica, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands recently spent a week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, completing a Coral First Aid Certification training program. Additional individuals from the affected territories will now be trained by these graduates to assist with major restoration efforts.

Coral reefs have declined by as much as 50 to 80 percent in the last 30 years.

“CHTA, through our affiliate Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), has a longstanding working relationship with the Grupo Puntacana Foundation and we’re delighted to be able to draw upon the Foundation’s expertise to provide this training,” said Frank Comito, CHTA’s CEO and Director General.

Grupo Puntacana Foundation’s President, Frank Rainieri, was a founder of CAST.

“We have an environmental responsibility to regenerate these natural treasures because without reefs, there would be fewer beautiful beaches and without our beaches fewer tourists would visit, so coral gardening is both an ecological imperative as well as a significant economic driver for our region,” Comito said.

Upon completion of the Coral First Aid Certification these graduates are now able to, among other skills, identify, construct and prepare at least two different types of nursery propagation platforms; set up new nurseries; properly attach coral fragments for propagation; perform regular maintenance; collect performance data using established standardized procedures; and properly harvest and transport coral fragments and colonies.