Submitted by: Coalition of Reef Lovers (CORL)
Implemented country: Samoa
Title: Where People and Corals Live in Harmony
Coral reefs are completely independent marine eco-systems in their own right. They are home to a large number of plants and animals. However, the number of coral reefs is on the decrease. A fifth of all reefs worldwide has already completely disappeared. Reasons are overfishing, industrial pollution, construction projects near the coast, and grounded vessels. Some scientists estimate that coral reef eco-systems might become completely extinct within the next 30 to 60 years. This is one of the problems American Samoa is facing. American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean. This largest United States territory south of the equator consists of several volcanic islands and two smaller atolls. American Samoa has only a small number of coral reef species, about 210 kinds of stone corals and approximately 30 to 45 kinds of soft corals. This reduces the commercial exploitation of corals in American Samoa.
Michael King is director of the Coalition of Reef Lovers (CORL) in American Samoa. His organization basically has two goals: Rehabilitation of the coral reefs as well as offering educational opportunities for school children and the general public on the topic of coral farming. Coral farming is an important part of sustainable development in such sensitive areas such as the South Pacific. CORL activities have helped rehabilitate and protect many coral habitats in American Samoa.
Three coral farms were started in American Samoa and 27 coral species were bred. More than 1,500 corals have been commercially marketed, and local volunteers have helped replant corals in their natural habitat. Michael King’s biggest challenge was the earthquake and the following tsunami on 29 September 2009. At a single blow the tsunami wave destroyed many corals as well as years of work.
CORL and Michael King feel that it is especially important for American Samoa that certain coral species be made available to the public, especially for children on school excursions. In addition, CORL is also planning on using solar power for individual booths along the educational path in order to offer visitors a 100% per cent energy-independent educational center. The most important advantages of the CORL project are the creation of jobs directly in the island villages, improving the quality of living for humans, animals, and plants; also low-cost coral farming, rehabilitation of the coral reefs, and more education and information for the general public.
“We only have one home. We can’t continue to destroy it!”