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    A New Network for the Preservation of the Coral Reef in the Dominican Republic
    Fernando Villalona to Reflect on His Life, Music at New York Dominican Get Together

    Emotions and Surprises During the First DGT of the Year With Fernando Villalona
    Santo Domingo, 28 de marzo, 2016

    FThe Propagas Foundation together with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and to the Reef Check Dominican Republic launched the Dominican Republic Reef Network, a network of organizations that form an inter-institutional alliance at the national level for the conservation of coral reefs in the country, at a ceremony where it was highlighted the importance of gathering stakeholders efforts.

    During the meeting, the President of the Propagas Foundation, Ms. Rosa M. Bonetti de Santana, stressed that: "with great satisfaction we are launching today on this stage the Dominican Reef Network (RAD, for its acronym in Spanish) and we will proceed with the signing of the agreement between the three founding members: Propagas Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and Reef Check Dominican Republic." Later on we will be signing the agreement with other organizations that are fundamental in the management of the conservation of the coral reefs in the country, so we invite and urge many more to join this network and work collaboratively."

    During the evening a report on the status of the coral reefs of the Dominican Republic with the results of its monitoring program throughout 2015 was illustrated to the audience.

    The Conference entitled: "The Health Conditions of the Coral Reefs in the Dominican Republic and the Eastern Caribbean" was led by two expert researchers: Professor Robert Steneck, Ph.D., renowned scientist and Professor of Oceanography, School of Biology and Marine Policy / Faculty of Marine Sciences of the University of Maine, United States, while the local partner was the prominent marine biologist Ruben Torres, Ph.D., President and Executive Director of Reef Check Dominican Republic.

    The Propagas Foundation, under the framework of a strategic alliance with Reef Check Dominican Republic, has been implementing, since 2015, a monitoring program of the health of the reef for the gathering of updated data on the progress of the state of health of our coral reefs, across the country. In addition, it produces a report every two years for publication and presentation of research results.

    Propagas Foundation President stressed that: "with the data collection environmental conditions are monitored, documenting the positive or negative changes that arise in the different researched areas, evaluating the impacts and defining management actions in the search for effective solutions to improve the state of health of these tropical ecosystems that are so important and fragile".

    As part of the program of reef monitoring Propagas Foundation is implementing, together with Reef Check, diving courses and certifications for students, training on the evaluation techniques of the health of coral reefs, coordination of the logistics for trips to study areas such as: Parque Nacional Submarino La Caleta, Bayahibe, Punta Cana, Las Galeras, Parque Nacional Submarino Monte Cristi and new locations that are to be included like Pedernales y Sosúa.

    During the keynote speech entitled: " The Health Conditions of the Coral Reefs in the Dominican Republic and the Eastern Caribbean: threats and possibilities for the 21st Century", Professor Robert Steneck, PhD. stated that: "the Dominican Republic is an extremely diverse country. Nevertheless, its greater diversity might be under water and out of sight for most people. Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea. They contain more types of plants and animals than any other ecosystem on Earth". During his speech the expert marine biologist warned: "coral reefs are under threat worldwide, but this is especially evident in the Dominican Republic, where different activities such as coastal development, tourism and fishing have taken its toll".

    In March 2015, under the initiative and coordination of the Propagas Foundation, a team of researchers led by doctors Robert Steneck (University of Maine) and Rubén Torres (Reef Check Dominican Republic) conducted research and surveys of the coral reefs of the Dominican Republic.

    According to the data presented by Prof. Steneck, a remarkable variety of reefs in different health conditions, going from some of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean, to some of the most degraded ones, were found. On several occasions, it seemed that there was more abundance of fish (especially parrotfish) where the healthiest coral reefs were located.

    Steneck said in his presentation: "The Dominican Republic still boasts some of the best coral reefs of the Caribbean. However, they are at high risk of overfishing and measures to protect them must be taken. The active protection of the coral reefs in the region of Monte Cristi may require a team to educate the population and to enforce the laws against fishing in specific coral reefs in that area and perhaps in other parts of the country too.”

    Renowned scientist Prof. Robert Steneck recommends that governmental and non-governmental organizations of the Dominican Republic work together to preserve the reefs that are still healthy today, as it is the case of Monte Cristi, and continue the efforts to improve that are degraded.

    Meanwhile, Ruben Torres, Ph.d., President and Executive Director of Reef Check Dominican Republic who delivered his keynote speech on the topic: "Local context of the situation of coastal and marine ecosystems ", stressed: "The Dominican Republic does not escape from the problems affecting marine ecosystems at regional and global levels, such as overfishing, pollution and sedimentation".

    The Dominican marine biologist also highlighted: "the data obtained in this research clearly shows that there is evidence of the relationship between human development and the health of the marine ecosystems, the greater the coastal development, the poorer the coral reef’s health. Moreover parrotfish are the main objective of the local fishing, and since they control the growth of algae, and are the main producers of the white sand of our beaches, they must be protected effectively. Nevertheless, we also saw cases of success with respect to the relationship between coral reef health maintenance and reduction of local impacts, I think there is still hope to recover the health of these ecosystems, but we must quickly take action and put our individual effort, supported by the private sector and the political will to legislate, and demand enforcement of existing regulations, so we understand that as a society we depend greatly on the sea, the coast and its related resources.

    Similarly, Mr. Francisco Núñez, Director of The Nature Conservancy (TNC)’s Program of the Antilles stated: “there is a great value in creating a network of conservation of coral reefs and the idea of the RAD, as an initiative led by Propagas Foundation to create public-private partnership that involves all of society in a same objective can be successful.”

    Prior to the Conference a video about the expedition carried out by the researchers, documenting the entire process in the locations visited during the study to determine the health of the coral reefs in the country, was presented to the audience.

    During the evening Diving Certificates and Diplomas for “Monitoring Program of the Coral Reefs 2105” were awarded to 10 students trained, by a specialized instructor, with the techniques of evaluation of the health of coral reefs, thus creating local competency on the issue.

    The President of Propagas Foundation alerted: "In our country we are dissipating the parrotfish, when the same survival of reefs depends on them, and if we destroy the reefs we also harm all the economic and ecological benefits that they provide. Parrotfish are the hope of the coral reefs in the Dominican Republic, we must preserve them. It is necessary to apply a veto to the capture of the parrotfish in DR.” She also emphasized: "Without parrotfish there are no reefs, without reefs there are no beaches and without beaches there is no tourism!”

    This interesting conference took place at Sala Max Henríquez Ureña and it was attended by marine biologists; technical specialists of the Vice Ministry of Coastal and Marine Resources and the Ministry of Environment; representatives from the National Aquarium, the Marine Biology Research Centre (CIBIMA), Fundemar, CODOPESCA, the National Museum of Natural history, the Ministry of Education, as well as renowned actors from Dominican business, conservation and environmental sectors.

    For additional information contact: Lisette Fernández Brugal / Fundación Propagas/ Tel: 809-364-1000 Ext. 2295/ Cel: 809-223-1108./ E-mail: lfernandez@fundacionpropagas.do

    Source: http://tiempohabitualonline.blogspot.com/2016/03/lanzan-la-red-para-conservacion-de.html

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