The renewed Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program provides participants an opportunity to experience and learn about coral reef management within coral reef jurisdictions. Because of the program’s importance and history of success, it has been one of the AIC’s top priorities for the last few years. We are pleased to see this program renewed and thrilled to be a partner.
This Fellowship Program is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, the jurisdictions, and U.S. All Islands Coral Reef Committee, and is managed by the National Coral Reef Institute at Nova Southeastern University.
The AIC appreciates the support, financial and staff time commitment, and partnership of NOAA and DOI, in particular. With the help of these agencies, this important program is revitalized and will help build coral reef management capacity at the local level.
PURPOSE: The National Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program (NCRMFP) responds to the need for increased coral reef management capacity in the coral reef jurisdictions while providing an opportunity for fellows to gain professional experience, expertise, and understanding of coral reef resources and management at the jurisdictional level.
PROJECT GOALS: To generate locally trained professionals to fill coral reef management capacity gaps to meet effective management needs.
The NCRMFP provides participants an opportunity to experience and learn about coral reef management within coral reef jurisdictions. This program is aimed at strengthening local coral reef management capacity by:
- Providing a mechanism to generate high quality professionals that help fill the jurisdictions’ capacity needs in coral reef management.
- Providing on the ground experience in the fields of coral reef science/management, at the local level, that will help to hone the fellows’ understanding and professional skill set for working on coral reef ecosystems and resources.
- Equipping fellows with experience to guide next steps in pursuing a career working on coral reef issues.
- Providing opportunities to interact and connect with government agencies and partners working on coral reef ecosystem and related resource management in the local jurisdiction.
- Providing a defined path for the fellow to transition into a local jurisdiction position working on coral reef management related efforts.
Unfortunately, this program is funded only for the next 1-2 years. After that, funding will again need to be pursued. The AIC continues to work with the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force to find ways to sustain this important program. We continue to look for in and out of the box ways to sustainably support this important program for the long term. Additionally, we look forward to working with the Task Force in building local capacity through a formalized and sustained Fellowship Program and really appreciate the commitment of our co-chairs to moving this forward.
We are pleased to share here a few highlights and updates on the fellowship in each of our jurisdictions.
American Samoa: Sabrina Woofter, American Samoa’s Coral Fellow, is actively working on creating awareness on better storm water management practices, through school outreach and creating educational handouts. Additionally, she assisted in the coordination of an environmental youth summer camp where kids installed a large rain garden in one of the territorial priority watersheds. Sabrina is in the process of creating a Samoan Climate Change Language Dictionary to assist local agencies in explaining the complexities of climate change in the local language.
CNMI: The CNMI Coral Fellow, Autumn Poisson, has been working on tasks highlighted in the Talakhaya Conservation Action Plan (CAP) with a focus on the re-vegetation of the watershed. These tasks include implementing a water quality monitoring plan, data management and analysis, and developing a small-scale herbivory study. The results of this study will be used to lead future efforts related to native seedling planting with the ultimate goal of a late succession native forest returning to the watershed.
Florida: Florida’s Fellow, Kelly Montenero, is currently leading the coordination of the Southeast Florida Action Network (SEAFAN), including responding to disturbance events and education and outreach activities associated with the program. She assists in the planning, coordination, and implementation of the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) regional water quality monitoring project and soon will be developing a community engagement strategy to improve awareness about southeast Florida’s coral reefs.
Guam: Guam’s Coral Fellow, Whitney Hoot, has been focusing on coordination of Guam Coral Reef Response Team activities related to the 2016 bleaching event as well as data collection and analysis for study of coral damage, coral disease, and human use in Tumon Bay.
Hawaiʻi: Hawaii’s Coral Fellow, Cameron Shayler, has been working with the community based subsistence fishing area (CBSFA) consultant to develop standardized monitoring protocols and training materials. He has conducted site visits, scoping meetings, and a workshop to identify common areas of agreement. These will be part of the larger CBSFA program that is being built.
Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico’s Coral Fellow, Mariana C. León Pérez, has been conducting an assessment of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources’ Coral Reef Monitoring Program and developing a georeferenced database of the data generated by this Program. As part of her evaluation, Mariana conducted a digital questionnaire to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of other US Coral Reef jurisdictions monitoring programs.
USVI: USVI’s Coral Fellow, Hilary Lohmann, has revitalized the Friends of St. Croix East End Marine Park (EEMP) group in support of responsible recreation in the watersheds of the EEMP. This includes: formalization as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; design and production of sea turtle etiquette materials for dissemination around east end businesses; a sign campaign that identifies the name and allowed activities of each bay of the park; and a turtle nest monitoring day patrol program at four beaches bordering the park.