The Coral Nurture Program is the world’s first reef science-tourism partnership program. The overall intent is to build novel operator capacity for meaningful stewardship, developed through scientific process of what works, where and when. The overall vision is to foster a community practice of due diligence that will attract corporate sponsors (or sustainable financing models) to the industry, and not “sponsorship” that may result in commercially driven and misleading intent.
Coral Nurture Program is a trademarked name and use of (operation under) the name is contingent on following the following set of principles, which are aligned to present tourism stewardship as a reef-positive – but scientifically rigorous – activity.
- Introduce coral propagation and planting into existing site stewardship methodologies, with the goal to maintain natural aesthetics and ecology (in line with world heritage natural value).
- Activities are expected to be conducted alongside other stewardship practices, e.g., COTS removal. Management interventions that do not focus on improving or retaining the natural aesthetics of the reef (e.g., underwater art) is outside the bounds of the Coral Nurture Program.
- Maintain a coordinated program that is required for constant improvement in practices through standard operating procedures and centralised reporting, where the goal is to maintain approval of activities by the management authorities for any individual operator participation.
- Ensure accurate reporting of daily operation logs, and other reporting obligations, that are essential for partner operators involvement.
- Prioritise research to advance knowledge of effective propagation and the ability to increase site resilience, where the goal is – in part – to ensure propagation efforts work towards the ‘reefs of tomorrow’.
- Messaging must accurately reflect that Coral Nurture Program is not about “saving the reef”, but rather building knowledge of site ecology, stewardship capacity and practice and increasing scientific understanding of adaptive capability in the context of climate change – supporting maintenance and/or rehabilitation of high value sites. The value of the program is to improve sustainability of reef tourism in the face of climate change, with reef tourism playing a vital role in communicating threats and broader policies to conserve the reef for future generations.
- Messaging must not over-exaggerate capability or outcomes.
- The intent of the code of operation is to position operators to gain additional funding with confidence and credibility from corporate or government donors.