April 30, 2018

First Two RC Trainers in Oman Take Lead in Reef Conservation

Ali Saleh Ibrahim (left) and Jenan Anwar Alasfoor

Submitted by Biosphere Expeditions

The very first two Omani Reef Check Trainers have just been certified and can now train their compatriots in Oman and elsewhere. This is the first time in the history of Oman that its citizens have assumed a leading role in reef science and conservation.

The two historic trailblazers, Jenan Anwar Alasfoor and Ali Saleh Ibrahim, are graduates of an international placement program run by global conservation NGO Biosphere Expeditions. Alasfoor and Ibrahim initially took part in expeditions run by Biosphere for the last 10 years to assess the health of Musandam reefs. Their participation was co-funded by the Anglo-Omani Society, and their training was supported by the Marine Conservation Society. They both graduated from the expedition as Reef Check EcoDivers and went on to take a leading role in the first-ever community-based reef survey in Oman in 2017. Alasfoor also became the head of budding NGO Reef Check Oman in the same year. Alasfoor and Ibrahim then expanded their survey experience and remotely completed a marine biology course at the University of Exeter (UK). It is thus only fitting that the next step be the historic achievement of certification as Oman's very first Reef Check Trainers.

"I am so proud to be a Reef Check Trainer now,” said Alasfoor.  “I intend to train other Omanis and build a community-based survey program. Anyone interested in joining me should look at the Reef Check Oman websiteReef Check Oman website and contact me. The more Reef Checkers we have, the better! And even if you are not a diver, we need help – and we can also work towards making you a diver with the support of our partners Grand Hyatt Muscat as well as Euro Divers Oman".

Ibrahim thanked "Biosphere Expeditions and all the other partners that have helped to get us to this point. The reefs of our country are a hidden jewel that requires urgent protection. The more Omanis we can get involved, the more civil society will notice, which is crucial if we are to protect our country's beautiful reefs. But they are not only beautiful, they are also vital for livelihoods, traditional ways of life and to protect our shores from damage. Please join Jenan and I in fighting for their survival."
Dr. Matthias Hammer, founder and chief executive of Biosphere Expeditions, concludes that "this is exactly what our placement program is all about — empowering local people to run their own conservation programs. Congratulations to Jenan and Ali for their historic achievement. We hope it is another stepping stone towards a true community-based reef conservation program in Oman."

The next annual Musandam Reef Check expedition will take place from 25 November – 1 December 2018. Divers from Oman and the rest of the world are encouraged to participate, be trained as citizen scientists and Reef Check Eco Divers, and help with coral reef conservation in Oman. More information about the expedition is available at http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/musandam.