Reef Futures 2018, the first global conference addressing coral reef restoration and intervention science took place last week in Key Largo, Florida, featuring over 550 leading scientists and experts from nearly 40 countries. This groundbreaking symposium tackled the challenges facing the planet’s coral reefs by sharing solutions, new research, experimental techniques, and promoting collaboration between global leaders in the field. The information exchange focused on the science and technology to scale-up restoration efforts to address this global crisis. As a co-chair of the Coral Restoration Consortium and a sponsor of the conference, NOAA will continue to work with partners to address this urgent need for these important habitats.
Highlights from the conference:
- Saving Coral Reefs will be XPRIZE’s new multi-million dollar competition. Planning to launch in 2019, XPRIZE is now calling for feedback from global leaders to construct a prize that will facilitate faster, bigger and better coral reef restoration.
- The recent of A Research Review of Interventions to Increase the Persistence and Resilience of Coral Reefs interim report from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
- Scientists showed for the first time that cryopreserved coral sperm can be used to transfer genetic diversity from one region of the Caribbean to another, enabling assisted gene flow in endangered corals without transplanting adult colonies.
- The symposium adopted sponsor Iberostar Hotels & Resorts "Wave of Change movement,"eliminating single use plastics and unsustainable seafood while focusing on coastal health solutions. Together with Ocean Reef Club's commitment to sustainability, there were no single-use plastics at the event. As a result, the symposium prevented the use over 30,000 pieces of plastic.
- Site visits to some of the world’s leading coral reef restoration programs, workshops on using satellites and drones to effectively monitor coral reefs, the opportunity for international experts to share information addressing the historic outbreak of stony coral tissues loss disease affecting 22 species along the Florida Reef Tract, and much more.
Despite the scale of the response required to address the emergency facing the planet's coral reefs, the atmosphere at Reef Futures 2018 was optimistic. Attendees represented a highly-motivated community taking tangible action of the crisis. While immediate action on rapidly deteriorating environmental conditions is paramount for the long-term survival of reefs, repopulating degraded reefs with resilient, genetically diverse, and reproductively-viable corals is also essential.
Reef Futures was presented by the Coral Restoration Consortium--a community of practice comprised of scientists, managers, and coral restoration practitioners dedicated to coral reef ecosystems survival, NOAA, and Australia’s Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program; hosted by the Coral Restoration Foundation™ and the Ocean Reef Club; and, sponsored by Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, The Henry Foundation, The Ocean Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, International Society for Reef Studies, Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium, SECORE International, Herbert W. Hoover Foundation, and others.