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EARTH DAY 2015: 'It's our turn to lead coral restoration'

Apr 22 2015


MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA (April 22, 2015) – The Sandals Foundation has pledged its support to coral reef restoration projects valued at more than US$45,000, which includes the establishment of coral nurseries in Jamaica.

By partnering with CARIBSAVE, the Coral Restoration Foundation, Bluefields Bay Fishermen’s Friendly Society and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Sandals Foundation aims to combat declining coral reef populations, 60 per cent of which are threatened by overfishing, pollution and climate change.

WATCH: SEA LIFE SANCTUARY TURNS THE TIDE, a video about the Sandals Foundation’s efforts in setting up marine sanctuaries:

“The Sandals Foundation is passionate about protecting the environment and particularly marine preservation,” said Adam Stewart, president of the Sandals Foundation. “The coral reef nursery project, on which we’ve partnered with these fantastic organisations, will produce approximately 1,200 coral pieces each year. The intention is to transplant them in order to increase coral populations, a crucial step towards maintaining healthy marine ecosystems in Jamaica.”

“The rate at which coral reefs are declining is very disturbing considering that they contribute so much to the Caribbean’s economy,” Stewart said. “With this year’s Earth Day theme being “It’s Our Turn To Lead”, we call for the region’s stakeholders to take a stand towards preserving our marine ecosystems and our environment as a whole to ensure that future generations have a Caribbean to call home.”

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s article, From despair to repair: Dramatic decline of Caribbean corals can be reversed, since the 1970s, coral reefs in the Caribbean have declined by more than 50 per cent. The IUCN article goes on to note that coral reefs “generate more than US$3 billion annually from tourism and fisheries, and over a hundred times more in other goods and services on which more than 43 million people depend”.


“Saving the Caribbean’s coral reefs will be critical for the future of the region’s beaches, tourism sector and fishing communities” said Dr. Owen Day of CARIBSAVE. “We now know that effective marine parks and coral restoration can make reef ecosystems recover faster than previously thought possible. It’s not rocket science; it just requires good management and real partnerships between communities, private sector, government and international donors. Sandals Foundation is fast becoming a regional leader in supporting these efforts.”

The aforementioned partners will also see to training for fisherfolk and other organisations dedicated to marine conservation in the areas of building and maintaining coral nurseries so that more may be installed at a number of locations. Funding for this coral restoration endeavour was provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the C-FISH Initiative (a UK aid funded project through the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and implemented by CARIBSAVE).

In addition to coral restoration, the Sandals Foundation is committed to marine conservation through its efforts to manage marine sanctuaries, and support for turtle and conch conservation, initiate environmental awareness programs in schools and lionfish awareness training.