Challenges Faced by FUNDEMAR to Preserve Coral Reefs and Marine Systems

By: Jordana Vásquez, Creator of and Project Manager of Efficient Energy and Sustainability in New York

There are dozens of disciplines within marine systems.  However, it is most probable that these can be categorized within the conservation and awareness agendas.  A particular organization that is making waves is the Dominican Foundation of Marine Studies (FUNDEMAR).  Jordana Vásquez, through Urbanonsite, had the opportunity to meet with María Villalpando, Conservation Coordinator in Coastal Marine Biodiversity to discuss the current situation faced by coral reefs and the contributions being made by FUNDEMAR on this issue.

FUNDEMAR’s mission is to contribute to the sustainable development and conservation of coastal and marine systems of the Dominican Republic through research, education and specific projects. Some of these projects include – but are not limited to – the preservation of coral reefs, ecotourism, beach clean-up initiatives, marine life issues, and a commitment to work with local divers and communities. However, in spite of the tremendous efforts carried out by the organization in this area, there is a fierce opponent that attacks swiftly and without prior notice.

Global warming is here to stay and is considered to be one of the major side effects of climate change.  One of the challenges faced by the coral reefs, due to the rising water temperatures, is to efficiently reproduce and populate its colonies. This is the reason why FUNDEMAR works to populate coral reefs with young corals.

Volunteers are welcome and, along with the FUNDEMAR team, they have created structures that have proven to be resistant to the threat of high tides and storms. Today, these structures have become a safe refuge for the growth and reproduction of marine life and biodiversity.  Aside from saving one coral reef at a time, the organization has strengthened a successful relationship with local divers in providing them with equipment and resources for their research and work.

Other important contributors to the deterioration of coral reefs are the contamination by plastic materials and fishing.  According to the article “Plastic or Planet,” published by National Geographic magazine, 6.3 million tons of waste never reaches recycling containers.  And, plastic takes approximately 450 years – or never – to biodegrade.  It is not a myth that pollution and plastic are killing marine life in the world’s oceans, as well as hindering the capacity of these marine animals to live a healthy and plentiful existence.  It is unfortunate that marine wildlife – ranging from plankton to whales – is seriously impacted on a daily basis due to the bad management of waste disposal, a situation which can only be corrected by humans.

Perhaps there’s doubt about the issue of climate change.  However, there is no question regarding the pollution of our oceans. Therefore, the example set by FUNDEMAR – bringing in groups of young people attracted by its mission – is having an important and visible impact.

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