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Extended reef restoration project for Cozumel begins

Cozumel, Q.R. — Reef rescue for the area at Cozumel has begun with extensive evaluations and the installation of nurseries.

With support from international organizations dedicated to the care of marine life, the beginning of the Cozumel Reef Rescue and Restoration Program has begun, which includes the evaluation of donor areas, sites for the installation of nurseries and the evaluation of susceptible sites of restoration.

Restoration sites will include areas such as Laguna de Chankanaab where corals will be planted.

Director of Conservation and Environmental Education (CEA), biologist Rafael Chacón Díaz, said that the restoration project is being done with the work of several organizations including Oceanus, the Fund for the Mesoamerican Reef and the CEA management of the Cozumel Parks and Museums Foundation and Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park who have started proceedings for the implementation of a Reef Rescue and Restoration Program in the Cozumel Reefs.

He explained that these particular activities are being done as an extension of the Reef Restoration Program that Oceanus has been doing for several years in different points along the coast of Quintana Roo and the Gulf of Mexico.

Chacón Díaz said the extra restoration efforts will increase the potential for recovery and adaptation of coral reefs using stabilization nurseries and the transplantation of colonies of key and genetically diverse species that may be resisting or adapting to the effects of climate change, such as bleaching.

He explained that the program is expected to be successful due to the great conservation commitment that exists in the community, adding that one of the next steps will be the consolidation and certification of a local restoration team that can help maintain the program in the reefs of Cozumel in the long term.

Chacón Díaz mentioned that coral reefs provide numerous benefits in activities such as tourism and fishing. They also help maintain water quality and provide food and protection to many marine organisms of ecological and commercial importance, but unfortunately, the reefs are becoming unhealthy due to a combination of human and natural disturbances, which could be accentuated by the effects of global climate change.