Leone Coral Reef Restoration project uses recyclables
Who knew recyclable materials could help restore our coral reefs and in essence, ensure our livelihood?
That is what Dr. Shari Shafir, a professor at Israel's Oranim Academic College of Education was able to teach Leone villagers last week during a training workshop conducted by the world renowned coral restoration expert.
During the week-long training, Dr. Shafir, who developed a special floating coral nursery, was able to teach local residents how to restore coral reefs by building numerous coral nurseries using recyclable materials such as old hosepipes and CD disks to hold the small corals, discarded fishing nets for the nursery base, and old plastic containers for buoys.
The Israeli expert advanced his invention even further by changing the depth in which it is placed, so there would be no need to dive in order to care for the corals.
It is Dr. Shafir’s hope that Leone residents who gained valuable information from the workshop will share their new found knowledge with others in the territory by teaching them the new methods they learned.
During the workshop, there were a combination of lectures and fieldwork in the ocean, including information about coral biology, the importance of coral reefs, coral restoration methods, how to build different types of coral nurseries and most importantly, how to maintain them and ensure their success.
The workshop participants included Leone village community members, the fisheries staff of the Dept. of Marine and Wildlife Resources, and marine science students from the American Samoa Community College (ASCC).
The project not only attracted the attention of Leone villagers, but tourists from the cruise ship that docked in the territory last week also stopped by to see what was going on, snapping photos of the villagers building the coral nurseries and asking questions.
The interaction has many people, Dr. Shafir included, saying the project could serve as an ecotourism program for American Samoa.
The project was funded as part of the Leone Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, led by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The project will run for two years and will also involve Mangrove Restoration Activities in Leone village.
DMWR fisheries biologist Alice Lawrence told Samoa News last week that the coral restoration project is the first activity related to the Restoration of Leone Village Coastal Wetlands Project since the grant award was announced last February.
The delay was due to federal permits and paperwork that needed to be complete.
Dr. Shafir has worked on coral restoration projects all around the world and DMWR says:_ "We are fortunate to have him here in American Samoa to share his knowledge and assist us with building a coral nursery in Leone."
The Leone Coral Restoration Project, according to Lawrence, “aims to build local capacity and provide the skills and knowledge for other locations in American Samoa to also benefit from a coral nursery.”
A second training workshop will be held at the end of the first year to train participants about transplanting techniques and assist with initiating these activities at the project site. Recently, the Dept. of Human Resources announced the personnel positions associated with the project, which will be officially initiated once the successful candidates have been selected.
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