20 Jul CTC Headlines the 5th Asia Pacific Coral Reef Symposium (APCRS) in Singapore

The Coral Triangle Center team, led by CTC Executive Director Rili Djohani, joined the 5th APCRS held in Singapore from June 19-23, 2023. 

With the theme ‘Coral reef science and management in a rapidly changing world’, the 5th APCRS was a forum for around 800 reef scientists and managers from 40 countries to present, discuss and integrate the science and conservation of Asia-Pacific coral reef ecosystems. The symposium’s goal was to bring together the region’s scientific community to “create new paradigms to meet the key challenges to the region’s reefs in the future.”

Ms. Djohani was the first plenary speaker during the symposium’s first day and talked about the importance of the Coral Triangle as a global epicenter for marine biodiversity situated in the Asia-Pacific region where 76% of all known coral species in the world can be found. In her talk, entitled “Towards an Effectively Managed Coral Triangle in the Asia-Pacific:  Are We on Track In Closing the Gap Between Science and On-the-ground Action?”, she highlighted the growing pressures on the Coral Triangle’s reefs from over-fishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and climate and as well as the growth in efforts to protect the region’s reefs over the last decade. She then highlighted how the nexus of coral reef science, conservation and management meets in the middle where values, norms, traditions, inclusiveness and equity become essential guidelines to preserve the most diverse, abundant, and resilient coral reefs on the planet.

Other CTC team members highlighted lessons learned from our coral reef restoration program and capacity building program. CTC’s Marine Conservation Adviser Marthen Welly presented on “Enhancing Capacity for Coral Restoration in Indonesia by Implementing Scientifically Based Standards and Protocols” while CTC’s Coral Reef Restoration Task Force Coordinator Eureka Amadea gave a presentation on “Supporting Success in Reef Restoration: Assessment Indicators and Evaluation in Three Cases of Coral Reef Restoration in Bali, Indonesia.” 

CTC Training Manager Silvianita Timotius presented on “Building Capacity of MPA Personnel in Indonesia Toward Effective Management by 2030” and CTC Senior Program Manager Dr. Hesti Widodo presented on “Integrated Marine Conservation and Fisheries Management Approaches are Prerequisite for Reef Protection in Eastern Indonesia,” drawing lessons learned from CTC’s contribution to the USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced Project. One of our community partners, Muhayem Nasrum, from the Banda Islands Marine Protected Area Network also shared about local marine management efforts with his presentation “Reviving SASI System for Effective MPAs in the Banda Islands. 

The 5th APCRS, hosted by the National University of Singapore and National Parks Board, consisted of four days of formal scientific proceedings with plenary talks, oral and poster presentations, as well as workshops and learning tours around Singapore. With its highly-urbanized shoreline and intensively utilized coastal waters, Singapore aimed to show how coastal development exerts pressure on coral reefs and other marine habitats and, at the same time, provides a useful case study of environmental management and adoption of management practices that aim to balance development and conservation of natural resources.

Despite their importance, coral reefs in the Asia Pacific region are threatened by a variety of stressors, including coastal modification and rapid climate change, giving rise not only to ecological implications but also to socio-economic impacts. To draw attention to these threats and to work together towards practical solutions, the Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Symposium was organized to provide a platform for scientists, educators, managers, environmentalists, and other stakeholders in the region to share their knowledge and expertise on the fields of coral reef biology, ecology, management and conservation, with the intention of forging greater cooperation and effective programs for collaboration to preserve our common marine natural heritage.

Held every four years and hosted by different institutions in the region, the number of participants has increased steadily from 250 in the first Symposium to more than 500 in the fourth Symposium. The expanding networks of people involved in the event illustrate the ever-growing interest and urgency in conserving coral reefs and marine resources in the region.

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