- Written by The BVI Beacon
- Published: 30 August 2017
At a time when coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate around the world, the Virgin Islands should be proud that a non-profit organisation here is spearheading an effort to bring some of them back to life.
About two years ago, volunteers with the Association of Reef Keepers attached hundreds of coral fragments to underwater PVC “trees” in two locations. This was not unprecedented, but it wasn’t common either: Only a handful of similar projects were being carried out abroad at the time.
The fragments grew quickly, and last month volunteers grafted them on to reefs at Smugglers Cove. Reefs off Virgin Gorda and Great Camanoe are next.
The programme’s success is good news indeed considering the state of the VI’s coral, which has largely died off in the waters around the territory’s more heavily developed areas. If the ARK project succeeds — and we see no reason it shouldn’t — it has the potential to make a big difference.
Nevertheless, it will not save the territory’s reefs by itself. Much more needs to be done in this regard.
Accordingly, we hope that ARK’s efforts will help raise awareness about a critical problem and spur the entire community into action. The transplanting project sets a good example of the sort of collaboration that is needed: Though spearheaded by ARK, it also has the backing of the government, volunteers and other partners.
Moving forward, we hope that such support will grow as more government agencies, businesses, organisations and individuals come on board.
Meanwhile, VI leaders should review the legislative regime designed to protect coral in the territory. Even when sound regulations exist, they are often selectively enforced or ignored entirely. Coral has suffered greatly as a result.
Given the importance of reefs to the VI’s marine environment, tourism economy, and quality of life, we believe that ARK is tackling one of the territory’s biggest problems.
Kudos to the organisation and its partners for leading the way toward a better tomorrow.