05 Dec Camaraderie, Resolve and Commitment at the 34th General Meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative

As greenhouse gas emissions drive changes in global ocean chemistry and temperature, how will corals respond? This is the type of question being addressed in the National Sea Simulator, a world-class marine research aquarium facility housed in the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) in Townsville, Queensland.  

The Sea Simulator was just one stop on a tour of the AIMS facility, where a group of around 80 delegates convened for the first day of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) general meeting in early December. ICRI is an informal partnership among countries and organizations with the aim of preserving coral reefs and associated marine ecosystems around the world. Founded in 1994 by eight countries, its membership has grown to over 40 countries and 40 non-governmental, intergovernmental and for-profit organizations. CTC has been a member of ICRI since 2018.

Over three days, the delegates shared updates on their respective activities, discussed initiatives to engage with other regional and global bodies, and exchanged information on urgent threats, such as the Stony Coral Tissue Loss disease currently devastating reefs in Florida and the Caribbean. Among the topics discussed was a motion to support the new Global Fund for Coral Reefs, led by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the company Vulcan. Other discussions centered on more technical topics such as Reef Cloud, an AIMS project that uses artificial intelligence to identify coral and other components of reefs in images sampled along transects. Prior to the start of the meeting, a one-day workshop on resilience-based management was facilitated by representatives of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, The Nature Conservancy, the University of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. 

CTC contributed to ICRI’s activities in 2019 by co-hosting a workshop in September with representatives of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) East Asia Region. GCRMN—an initiative of ICRI—is an international consortium of researchers who contribute and analyze coral reef monitoring data to provide regional and global information on the status of reefs. Out of the Bali workshop, the Bali Coral Reef Monitoring Network emerged with a goal of compiling monitoring data that will become part of the dataset contributed to GCRMN East Asia on behalf of Indonesia.  

At a dinner to celebrate ICRI’s 25th anniversary, AIMS Council Chairman Penelope Wensley challenged members to preserve the camaraderie, resolve and commitment that has characterized ICRI since its founding. Judging by the enthusiasm demonstrated by the attendees, ICRI will persist as a strong advocate for coral reefs on the global stage.

For more information about the 34th ICRI General Meeting, visit https://www.icriforum.org/ICRIGM34.  

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