CCMI gets 257k European Union grant for coral restoration research | Loop Cayman Islands

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass
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(Photo credit: CCMI)

In February 2022, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) was awarded a RESEMBID grant from the European Union for EUR257,949 to further their cutting-edge coral restoration research.

RESEMBID is funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France – the development cooperation agency of the Government of France.RESEMBIDsupports sustainable human development efforts in 12 Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) – Aruba, Anguilla, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Montserrat, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Barthelemy, Sint Maarten and Turks and Caicos.

CCMI aims to rebuild coral reef ecosystem resilience through assisted evolution, via selective restoration with stress (heat and disease) tolerant corals. During these times of unprecedented rapid environmental change, it is critical to understand the capacity of corals to adapt and/or acclimatize to new conditions. This project will build on CCMI’s past research, incorporating their understanding of coral restoration disease resistance and outplanting methodology, while conducting state of the art experimentation to assess thermal tolerance – all of which will be used to increase the resilience of coral reefs through advanced restoration practices. Improved restoration strategies informed by the project will then be shared locally and regionally, which will ultimately seek to support the increase of coral resilience throughout the Caribbean.

The 18-month project will include visiting collaborator Professor John Bruno (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), who will provide key technical assistance for the project, expanding the project team’s knowledge and capacity of thermal tolerance experiments. The project outcomes will increase public awareness of the coral reef crisis and will contribute to tangible solutions to coral reef adaptation methods for reef managers throughout the region, including European/UK overseas territories. The project will also support the wild coral reef ecosystems in Little Cayman, a Mission Blue Hope Spot, at a time when the need for marine protection is paramount.

CCMI has been refining their restoration methods for 10 years, seeing greater success with outplanting techniques due to their scientific approach to understanding disease and heat tolerance. This grant supports CCMI’s in-situ project that is one of the longest running empirically based coral restoration research projects in the region. Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, project lead and Director of Research and Education at CCMI, indicates that investing in coral restoration is paramount for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that are reliant upon healthy reefs for protection, sustenance, and economic stability.

She said:

Coral restoration, consisting of outplanting nursery-raised corals in order to rebuild reef structure and function, is an increasingly popular approach to confront local declines in coral abundance,” she said. “The propagation and outplanting of nursery-grown corals has become so commonplace that coral restoration efforts are becoming capable of augmenting coral populations at ecologically meaningful scales. Scaling up in an efficient and cost-effective way is key to improving restoration practice…which in turn can contribute to both climate change adaptation and conservation strategy.

To find out more about the project, please see the CCMI website: https://reefresearch.org/what-we-do/research/restoration/

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