Leaders meet at AIMS to discuss solutions for world’s coral reefs

19 December 2019

The status of the world’s corals reefs was a focus of discussion when the Australian Institute of Marine Science supported the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in hosting the 34th International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) General Meeting in Townsville in early December.

AIMS welcomed nearly 80 international participants from science, government, non-government and philanthropic organisations to its research facility at Cape Ferguson and a tour of the AIMS Research Vessel Cape Ferguson as part of the week-long meeting.

AIMS Executive Director of Strategic Development David Mead said the partnership strives to preserve coral reefs and related marine ecosystems around the world.

“Long-term monitoring of coral reefs around the world show they are threatened by human-made impacts such as climate change, overfishing and pollution.

“It is a privilege for AIMS to host the ICRI members, to share ideas from around the globe to improve monitoring efforts, and discuss solutions, including reef restoration, to ensure their protection,” Mr Mead said.

AIMS is a pivotal member of ICRI, and has recently resumed its role co-ordinating and hosting the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN). The GCRMN was first established by ICRI in 1995, and provides the best available scientific information on, and communication of, the status and trends of coral reef ecosystems.

AIMS Chief Research Officer and GCRMN international co-ordinator, Dr David Souter, said the network is working towards the production of the Status of the Coral Reefs of the World report, due for release in mid-2020.

“Coral reefs around the world are facing a difficult future. Up-to-date information on the health of reefs and how that is changing over time is essential for their conservation and management,” Dr Souter said.

“The Status of the Coral Reefs of the World report will bring the latest status of and trends in the condition of coral reefs worldwide together, for high-level policy makers within governments and the United Nations, and provide a foundation for reporting progress against UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Left to right: Teresa Sadkowsky (GBRMPA), John Baldwin (past GBRMPA staff), Margaret Johnson (GBRMPA), David Souter (AIMS), Amanda Brigdale (DFAT), Ben Palmer (GBRMPA) at the ICRI General meeting in Townsville. Image courtesy of GBRMPA.

Other projects discussed with participants at AIMS this week, included the latest coral reef monitoring technology developments such as the `Reef Cloud’ monitoring system which uses artificial intelligence, and advances in reef restoration.

Australia, Monaco and Indonesia currently co-chair the Secretariat of ICRI until mid-2020.

Featured image: Attendees enjoy a tour of the National Sea Simulator during the 34th International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) General Meeting in Townsville in early December