Story | 05 Jan, 2021

Coral restoration training on Fiji’s Coral Coast

CEESP News: by Victor Bonito, Director, Reef Explorer Fiji

With corals and coral reefs facing increasing threats, coral restoration has become a growing tool for conservation and marine management practitioners.

In order to bolster ongoing coral restoration effort in Fiji, Reef Explorer recently conducted six one-week trainings focused on building fundamental knowledge, skills, and providing guidance on how to incorporate key principles in order to optimize the ecological outcomes of coral restoration efforts.

The trainings catered to twenty-three participants, all currently involved in coral restoration efforts, who came from resort and tourism operations, community-based efforts, and Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries.

During the trainings, participants were taught about and gained hands-on experience in 1) selecting suitable restoration areas and developing restoration strategies, 2) designing, assembling and deploying coral nurseries, 3) selecting suitable donor colonies and propagating new coral colonies, 4) coral transplantation strategies and various methods of reattaching coral colonies, and 5) predator control and other activities that can improve the outcome of coral restoration efforts.

Coral restoration training on Fiji’s Coral Coast       Photo: Victor Bonito, Reef Explorer
As a part of their in-water practical training, participants assisted Reef Explorer’s Conservation Assistants with the transplantation of over 4000 corals from nurseries back to the reef, the installation of two new coral nurseries, the propagation of over 6500 new coral colonies, and the removal of over 1000 coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish from the coral restoration sites and surround reef areas.

Training participants with one of the seven coral nurseries they helped re-stock with coral fragments. Photo by Victor Bonito

The trainings were conducted as a component of a larger project entitled “Building Capacity to Optimize the Ecological Outcomes of Coral Restoration Efforts in Fiji” that is supported by a grant from the US Embassy Suva’s Regional Environment Office.

Due to the great interest in the trainings, Reef Explorer hopes to be able to offer similar trainings in 2021.

Carousel photo captions:

1 – Training participants with one of the seven coral nurseries they helped re-stock with coral fragments.

2 – Training participants go through a ‘dry run’ of how they will be propagating new corals on ropes before heading out to the reef to actually propagate new coral colonies.

3 – Training participants helped remove corals from the nurseries and relocate them to the restoration site.

4 – Training participant helped reattach corals to the reef using a mixture of cement and plaster.

5 – During the training, participants learned how to identify suitable donor colonies and collect fragments from them for asexual propagation of new coral colonies.