By Reef Check Dominican Republic
This May, Reef Check Dominican Republic (RCDR) launched the National Coral Reef Initiative. In order to reduce local impacts, restore affected areas and promote sustainable use of marine and coastal resources, RCDR announced the implementation of strategic alliances with key partner institutions in parts of the country with tourist or fisheries importance to develop regional coral reefs initiatives, that all combined, constitute the national coral reef initiative. The National Coral Reef Initiative seeks to institutionalize local or regional efforts that would in turn follow the global guidelines of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI).
This initiative aims to provide training for different groups of users, both to raise awareness and to enable local communities to verify the status and progress or deterioration of marine ecosystems. These studies will indicate the location and size of potential protected areas, both inside and outside the national system of protected areas, and will involve local communities in sustainable use activities in these areas. These natural attractions, in turn, will benefit the local communities.
Partners supporting this initiative will create a locally funded independent marine conservation area from voluntary user fees and will be responsible for active members and for following the guidelines of sustainable use of coastal marine resources through local conservation programs.
Currently the National Coral Reef Initiative has launched activities in Las Terrenas with Turtle Dive School Dive Center, Coral Point Divers in Bayahibe, and Tasha Gough in Cabarete, Sosua and Punta Rucia. Montecristi and Las Galeras will be coming on board soon.
In recognition of its conservation efforts, RCDR recently was awarded the 2013 ATABEY Conservation Award by the Centro de Innovación ATABEY (the ATABEY Center of Innovation). Located in the Dominican Republic, the Atabey Awards is an annual event that identifies national efforts related to environmental protection, coupled with local economic development and the promotion of social cohesion. The award aims to recognize the work of individuals or institutions that perform actions or relevant works to the benefit of sustainable development in the communities where they are located. At the same time, the award serves as a platform to showcase what is being done in the Dominican Republic in terms of sustainable design, environmental protection, alternative energy technologies, organic agriculture, among other related topics.