The ICRI 28th General Meeting in Belize was a long four days, but extremely informative with some impressive stakeholders from the coral reef science world the likes of Jeremy Jackson, John Ogden and Judy Lang.
A common theme throughout the meeting was the gap between science, the public and public decisions. Communication of global reef monitoring results is one of the weakest areas of coral conservation and this reminded me of the value of DCNA’s role to help communicate science. The “report card” system of the Healthy Reefs Initiative is doing a good job communicating reef science and is something we should investigate further as a potential model for communicating science results.
The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) has invested the past two years in preparing the most extensive analysis of coral reef monitoring to date in the Caribbean (1970-2012). It is due out by the end of 2013 and tt’s strongest message is that coral reef fish, particularly the herbivores, are strongly associated with the overall health of coral ecosystems. The meeting participants agreed to a strong recommendation to protect Parrotfish.
There is still a gap in coordination and communication for coral reef monitoring at the Caribbean regional level. The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, through Paul Hoetjes is going to take on the hosting of a first workshop to reestablish the “Node” subregional reporting system. SPAW RAC is interested in supporting this as well. The scientists have told us exactly what we should be monitoring (see report) and when, so the time is right for our Dutch islands to establish a roving monitoring team.
Nat Miller presented on our work with the Ministry and Alterra to develop the Dutch Caribbean Biodiversity Database. There were also several other database presentations and that is where I learned the most. I think now we have a very clear idea of what our database should be in order to best support the conservation organisations of the Dutch Caribbean and ensure its use and sustainability.