December 17, 2008

International Year of the Reef December Update

Though IYOR 2008 is coming to a close, IYOR activities will spill over into 2009. The International Declaration of Reef Rights, for example, continues to serve as a stage where people can express their concerns and hopes for reefs, and commit to take action. In early 2009, the signatures and comments of nearly 25,000 people from 157 countries and territories will be sent to the top government officials of countries with coral reefs, along with a request to take action to protect these underwater resources. RC’s Singing Contest featuring “The Year of the Reef Song” is another approach to engage the world’s youth in reef conservation. The deadline to enter the contest has been extended to January 31, 2009, so gather a group of children, students, or friends to make your video! This is an amazingly fun and educational opportunity to easily win $1000.00 USD!
Reef Check and IYOR efforts in the Persian Gulf continue to grow stronger thanks to the efforts of Marine Biologist Mohammad Ghavasi. He has overseen the production and distribution of the first RC brochure in Persian, featuring pictures of Iranian corals of the Persian Gulf, the International Declaration of Reef Rights, and information about the IYOR. Mr. Ghavasi and Pejman Eslami, Manager of the Kish Dolphin Park Aquarium, held the Reef Check Hall at “Iran’s 6th International Fisheries, Aquaculture & Seafood Exhibition” on November 25-28 on Kish Island in the Islamic Republic of Iran. During the exhibit, they distributed the brochure, collected signatures for the Declaration and talked to attendees about marine conservation. Many thanks to Mr. Sabet, owner of Sabet International Trading Co. for sponsoring the RC Hall, and Mr. Poorghasemi Manager of Kish Island Dolphin Park for their support. This event was followed by the International Conference on Monitoring and Modeling of Marine Pollution (ICOMP 2008) held by INCO & INOC December 1-3 on Kish Island; attendees included people from Iran, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, among other countries. Mr. Ghavasi succeeded in including the Declaration in the conference program and in distributing the brochure among attendees. Thanks also to the participants of the conference. If you are interested in a copy of the brochure or for more information please contact Mohammad Ghavasi at +0098 917 7376022, or at
Belize remains committed to protecting its marine resources during the IYOR. Just this past November 14, the Belize IYOR Committee held the “Reef Symposium” in Belize City where local and international organizations presented their conservation achievements in Belize. Puerto Rico is not falling behind either; on December 3 the annual symposium organized by the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute in San Juan highlighted the need to continue with the goals of IYOR though 2009 and beyond. Bangladesh is also part of the effort; the Exhibition on Coral Resources of St. Martins Island and Biodiversity of Ecologically Critical Areas (ECAs) was held this past November 25 in the city of Dhaka. The event included a seminar on coral conservation, an essay competition for school students, and a video documentary and photo exhibit. Speaking of photography, “Paradise Despoiled: The World’s Threatened Coral Reefs” exhibition was held at Yale University on November 2008. The event featured photographs dealing with the beauty and magnificence of marine environments, and the threats and human impacts on them. To add to the artistic pool, renowned artists such as Wyland and Troy Hotard have created magnificent art pieces to celebrate the IYOR. Their work is being featured on the “Artists for the Reefs” Gallery.
The United States Virgin Islands IYOR Committee has done an outstanding job of engaging USVI’s residents of all ages in learning more about their rich marine resources through enjoyable and educational activities. The “Free Movie Nights Series” which started on January 25 concluded on November 21 with the showing of “Shark Tale.” The last of the “Free Public Snorkel Clinics” was held on December 14 at Fort Frederik Beach; snacks, prizes, knowledge and lots of fun were abundant as usual. Other activities held throughout 2008 included a SCUBA Essay Contest, the “Dive Into IYOR” underwater and beach cleanup, a “Kid’s Activity Day” and a “Beach Activity Day,” the amazingly fun “St. Croix Reef Jam,” and the development of radio PSAs. For more information please contact Karlyn K. Langjahr at
As part of their contribution to IYOR, the Fundación ICRI Colombia led a workshop about the relevance of participatory evaluations in monitoring the performance of ecological, social and economic indicators to increase coral reef management effectiveness. Reef Check Dominican Republic and Project AWARE Foundation/Coral Watch participated in the event which was held on December 4 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. The commitment of 160 scuba diving operators in Colombia to take part in permanent participatory monitoring is a major accomplishment of this event; nevertheless, the challenge remains of securing the necessary funding for their capacity building. For more information please contact
Stay tuned for the IYOR activities wrap up in January 2009!