A new eco-tourism venture aimed at reversing the effects of climate change on coral reefs has been launched in Vanuatu. Coral gardening, or mariculture, involves snorkelling to reattach broken pieces of coral to damaged reefs, which can eventually grow into full size coral colonies.
A Secretariat of the Pacific Community technical advisor in Vanuatu, Christopher Bartlett, says the project was launched last week at Worasiviu Village on Pele Island. Dr Bartlett says it gives tourists a chance to get involved in taking action against climate change.
“Tourists can actually snorkel down and attach their own fragment of coral onto the coral garden bed and it’s kind of their living souvenir that they’ll remember the rest of their lives, they feel like they came and left a part of themselves here in Vanuatu. And of course they leave some money behind.”
Christopher Bartlett says money raised will go towards other climate change adaptation activities, such as reef surveys and setting up fish aggregating devices.
A similar model has been pioneered by the Coral Restoration Foundation in the Florida Keys. It gives tourists the opportunity to explore the reefs, and also feel like they are leaving a piece of themselves, while at the same time attempting to cultivate healthy reef growth. Coral gardening is proving to be an exciting eco-tourism opportunity that promotes both conservation and aquaculture.