Celebrate the 3rd International Year of the Reef
The International Year of the Reef is a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs, threats to their sustainability, and to motivate people to take action to protect them. The International Coral Reef Initiative declared 2018 as the third International Year of the Reef recognizing increasing threats to reefs. Primary threats include pollution and plastics, rising temperatures and damaging fishing practices. These threats, among others are becoming more severe, consequently moving these ecosystems into a critical state, requiring urgent attention. Divers more than anyone can appreciate the beauty and significance of a healthy coral reef ecosystem and are the front line of defense as ambassadors.
Explorer Ventures is celebrating the beauty of coral reefs and highlighting the need for protection by offering exciting new programs and taking action ourselves. Read on to find out how...
The History of International Year of the Reef
According to the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the primary threats to coral reefs are rising temperatures, ocean acidification, pollution, plastics and sediments, destructive fishing practices, and overfishing. It is estimated that 40 percent of our oceans are heavily affected by unsustainable practices. The UN Ocean Action Hub has also highlighted that severe bleaching events are occurring twice as frequently since 1980.
In “response to the increasing threats on coral reefs and associated ecosystems, such as mangroves and seagrasses around the world, IYOR was a global effort to increase awareness and understanding of the values and threats to coral reefs, and to support related conservation research and management efforts.” 1997 was the first year to be declared the International Year of the Reef and over the last decade, 50 countries and over 225 businesses have participated. Over 700 articles have been generated in papers and magazines with hundreds of scientific surveys undertaken. With threats to the reefs and associated ecosystems still critical and needing urgent attention, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) designated 2008 the second IYOR, and this year 2018 as the third.
Goals of the Third International Year of the Reef
The first IYOR's goals were focused primarily on increasing awareness and understanding threats to coral reefs. Jump ahead to 2008, the goal of this IYOR was to promote conservation action and strengthen long-term collaborations for coral reef conservation. The third IYOR seeks to encourage change by bringing informed opinions of global scientific leaders to policymakers, enacting government level policy changes and conservation – proving that inaction is no longer possible. The 2018 goals are outlined as:
- Strengthening awareness globally about the value of, and threats to, coral reefs and associated ecosystems
- Promoting partnerships between governments, the private sector, academia and civil society on the management of coral reefs
- Identifying and implement effective management strategies for conservation, increased resiliency and sustainable use of these ecosystems and promoting best practices
- Sharing information on best practices in relation to sustainable coral reef management
Dive as Ambassadors With Green Fins
Divers are the eyes and ears of what's happening under the surface, therefore they should be ambassadors and the front line of protection. Divers and the dive industry have the ability to make coral reefs stronger by raising awareness about reef conservation and by helping to reduce local and tourism pressures, not to mention limiting their own impact.
Although divers may feel that their personal impact is inconsequential, the globally thriving tourism and scuba industries make the cumulative effect of these actions relevant. By 2020, the World Tourism Organization predicts that a record 1.4 billion tourists will cross international borders in a single year. A substantial number of those tourists will be ocean goers. With such a consequential number people in and near the water, divers are going to see increasingly irresponsible and uninformed tourist behavior, further threatening the already critical reefs. This is where the Reef-World Foundation has stepped in introducing the internationally coordinated Green Fins initiative.
Green Fins is a global and comprehensive management approach. It is the only recognized set of environmental standards to provide guidance and support for dive centers, snorkel operators, communities, governments, and tourists. Green Fins promotes best practices and uniquely positions operators to act within their own communities and encourage positive and lasting change.
How is Explorer Ventures Making an Impact?
This year for International Year of the Reef, we are celebrating the beauty of coral reefs, educating on the threats to these fragile ecosystems, and promoting the vital work being done to preserve them – including taking action ourselves. Our special IYOR program includes a quarterly blog series, weekly educational posts on ocean conservation, and conservation-based dive trips. Most importantly, Explorer Ventures is adopting the Green Fins dive policies onto our Caribbean vessels.
We hope to encourage change through these 6 initiatives:
- Green Fins Environmental Policies: Starting this spring we have pledged to practice the Green Fins environmental policies onboard our Caribbean vessels; Turks and Caicos Explorer II and Caribbean Explorer II. These policies include strengthening diver awareness and integrating best practices for all guests who board our vessels. Learn more here.
- Dive with a Purpose Expeditions: In partnership with Carpe Diem Maldives, we are hosting a series of ‘Dive with a Purpose’ trips in the Maldives throughout 2018. Research focus includes Crown of Thorn Starfish Removal, and Marine Megafauna Research, with reef survey activities on all weeks. Divers who wish to participate can learn more here.
- Reef Fund Research Charter: In assistance to the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, we will host scientists for one week in August aboard the Turks and Caicos Explorer II. Scientists and specialists will conduct an extensive survey of East Caicos mapping the health and habitat of the reef and determine the best management of use for the future. Learn more here.
- Charitable Donations: The Sea Save Foundation's mission is to generate consciousness and encourage stewardship of our natural ecosystems through charitable educational activities. Explorer Ventures will continue to donate one free trip every year to this cause, helping to raise funds to contribute to this effort. Learn more here.
- Reef Awareness Social Media Series: Every Monday throughout 2018 we will post and re-share educational content on ocean and reef conservation. Our aim is to raise public awareness of IYOR and the importance of coral reef conservation. To follow along like our Facebook page, or search by hashtags #RaiseReefAwareness #DiveforChange and #IYOR2018.
- Public Education Series: We will post a quarterly blog article examining an in-depth coral reef and/or ocean conservation topic, and illustrate how the general public can make sustainable changes at home. This also includes highlighting foundations who are contributing to the management and protection of reefs. Find our blog here.
Whether you’re landlocked at home, or diving from one of our liveaboards, let’s celebrate and preserve our coral reefs together.
Make 2018 the year you commit to meaningful change for our planet!