Coral nurseries in Windward Islands

Coral nurseries will be set up in St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba as part of a new project, announced the Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies IMARES research institute of the Wageningen UR University in the Netherlands on Thursday, reports The Daily Herald.

A new project has started to set up coral nurseries to grow corals in an effort to restore damaged reefs in the Windward Islands and in the Turks and Caicos. “Coral reefs are among the most threatened ecosystems on earth. At the same time they are among the most diverse ecosystems providing income to millions of people,” it was stated in a press release of the IMARES of Wageningen UR.

A nursery tree with coral fragments. (Photo courtesy of Erik Meesters/IMARES)
A nursery tree with coral fragments. (Photo courtesy of Erik Meesters/IMARES)

In this project, coral fragments are grown and used for restoring damaged reefs. Restoration efforts will be accompanied by monitoring of resilience using state-of-theart genomic techniques.

Raising and the out-planting of new coral colonies of fast growing and relatively robust coral species will allow new coral reef habitats to be created. In this manner the project will provide new living space for fish and invertebrates and provide sustainable income for local communities.

The Restoration of Ecosystem Services and Coral Reef Quality RESCQ project has a budget of 400,000 euros and will last 3 years. It is funded by the European Union (EU) and co-funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The project which involves the setting up of coral nurseries in St. Maarten, Statia, Saba and the Turks and Caicos Islands started on May 17, 2016, and will run until May 16, 2019.

Local nature organisations that will be participating in this project are: The St. Eustatius Nature Parks Foundation Stenapa, the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, the Saba Conservation Foundation and the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund.

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