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Reef Check Director in BVI

Thursday, April 15–“It is my immediate goal to enhance local coral reef monitoring through improving the effectiveness of Reef Check-BVI.” Dr. Hodgson told the Department of Information and Public Relations. He added that he hopes his visit will also raise awareness about the importance of reef conservation in the BVI. “In the long-run, Reef Check hopes to establish a territory-wide reef monitoring programme, create children’s ocean education programmes, and help the government implement the recently approved Protected Areas System Plan”, Dr. Hodgson said.

Executive Director of Reef Check International, Dr. Gregor Hodgson arrived in the Territory on Monday, April 12 for a week to work with Reef Check-BVI to enhance their local coral reef monitoring programme in collaboration with the Conservation and Fisheries Department, the National Parks Trust, and the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College.

Dr. Hodgson will be facilitating a two day workshop at the Conservation and Fisheries Department, entitled “Enhancing Coral Reef Monitoring in The Virgin Islands through a public-private partnership”.

Dr. Hodgson checking the reefs.

The objective of the workshop is to determine how Reef Check efforts can be better integrated within the overall coral reef research and monitoring strategies of BVI Government agencies. As a part of this, the workshop will consider strategies for monitoring new threats to reefs such as those posed by climate change and flesh out a closer partnership between Reef Check-BVI and government agencies, especially in regards to data management, analysis, and reporting.

Dr. Hodgson will engage in a number of public education activities while here in the BVI, including lectures at St. George’s Secondary School and Cedar School, a presentation to a group of architects and government agencies about protecting coral reefs in the development process, and a public presentation at a social on Thursday, April 15 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Drake’s Point Restaurant, Fort Burt Hotel, sponsored by TICO Wine and Spirit Merchants. A $5 or greater donation is encouraged to support reef monitoring efforts.

The internationally based Reef Check Foundation promotes community-based coral reef monitoring as a low cost and highly efficient mechanism to achieve several objectives at once. Reef Check BVI works under the banner of the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK), a BVI registered Non Government Organization, which has run the Reef Check monitoring programme in the BVI since 1997.

Coral reefs are among the most valuable natural resources in the Virgin Islands. They provide coastal protection, sand for our beaches, food and shelter for fish and other marine life, and recreation for residents and tourists alike. However, they are in a state of decline due to a number of threats including sedimentation, anchor damage, over-use and over fishing, sewage pollution, poorly planned developments, and climate change. Coral reef monitoring is a critical part of any management strategy as it helps managers understand how certain factors affect the reef, how the reefs are changing in response, what the best management approaches are, and how effective management is being.

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