Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba (FPNA) is proud to be hosting its first Coral Reef Monitoring Workshop this week, together with trainers – marine biologists Tadzio Bervoets from the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and Roxanne-Liana Francisca from STINAPA Bonaire. Participants include representatives from FPNA, JADS, ScubbleBubbles, Caribbean Lionfish Alliance (CLA), Aquawindies and the Directorate of Nature and Environment (DNM).
During this four-day workshop, the participants – all certified divers – will be trained as data collectors following standard coral reef monitoring practices as described by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) and the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA). Besides being trained in monitoring criteria, techniques and protocol, participants will also be trained in fish, invertebrate, coral recruits (baby coral), algae, coral disease, and invasive species identification – which are a crucial part of monitoring the health of coral reefs.
Coral reefs are ecosystems with possibly the highest biodiversity and unlike anything else on the planet. Apart from being incredibly varied and beautiful, and hosting an array of amazingly interesting life forms, coral reefs are essential to the economy of Aruba. Coral reefs protect our coasts from storms and are a nursery and home to numerous species that are vital to our fisheries. Coral reefs and their specialized fish also provide for Aruba’s beautiful white sandy beaches that tourists worldwide come to enjoy. However, coral reefs and their inhabitants are increasingly being threatened by coastal development, marine and coastal recreation, maritime activities, extractive activities, and land, air and marine pollution, and other impacts.
FPNA’s interim Marine Park Manager Sietske van der Wal is excited to finally start with data collection. “FPNA manages four Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that are collectively known as Parke Marino Aruba. We are the only island within the Kingdom not yet structurally monitoring the health of our coral reefs and with this workshop we will now acquire the skills to do so ourselves.”
After this workshop, FPNA – together with its partners – will be conducting coral reef surveys every two years at representative locations in order to assess the state of Aruba’s reefs, compare data over time and adapt management accordingly. Data will be shared with DCNA, GCRMN and others to be able to follow trends at a national, Kingdom and regional level. The data acquired through these surveys will also be incorporated into the management of Parke Marino Aruba.
FPNA appreciates and thanks all facilitators and participants for their support in making this workshop possible and a success – be it financially, by supplying equipment and transport, or by devoting their time and effort.
Watch here the live version on 24ora: https://fb.watch/5itHHQyI9c/
Article published in BioNews 42