Coral reefs comprise some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. More than 1 billion people rely on coral reef fisheries for food — and reefs also provide shoreline protection from storms, income from tourism, opportunities for medical advances, and traditional and cultural value.
The Micronesia Region is home to over 1400 species of fish and 400 species of coral, representing a key region of global biodiversity. Local and traditional communities, who are legal reef owners and stewards, want to ensure their reefs continue to thrive in the face of overfishing and climate change, two primary threats in the region. However, they often lack the scientific and technical resources that enable long-term conservation in quickly changing ocean conditions — which is where OneReef can make huge impact as a global partner.
To protect these valuable coral reefs, we have developed an entrepreneurial solution that is:
- Highly direct
- Leverages strong relationships
- Employs simple technologies, targeted science, and innovative finance.
We work on-the-ground with communities, community leaders, and governments, leveraging strong relationships to create change and deliver services. OneReef negotiates simple agreements with community leaders: agreements include no-fishing rules and catch limits for important fish species, and we create a long-term shared vision and finance plan for 20 years or more so communities can build impact into the future.
We believe that biological data, enforcement efficacy, and community engagement are critical measures of success. Our community agreements include accountability from all partners, so that we can assess how much impact we have, and can adjust management to be even more effective.
With support from us, communities and local partners protect 350,000 acres of reef for an annual cost of $3/acre. We finance stewardship functions, provide immediate benefits to key stakeholders, and foster a measurable ecological response that produces community-wide benefits. When we invest, communities receive jobs, new skills, and healthy reefs.
As our partners address illegal fishing and see local management capacity grow, we see a “spillover” effect into neighboring communities that want to create the same long-term change. OneReef has been invited to work with communities across the Asia-Pacific region that want to protect their coral reefs, their heritage, and their livelihoods.
We now have an opportunity to scale up to 1M acres of reef protected — a breakout scale — to achieve even greater conservation outcomes with our community partners.
We have a successful process of piloting projects with communities, assessing impact, expanding our programs as capacity grows, and enabling regional impact. At a breakout scale, the benefits from economies of scale, information sharing, and social movements become enormous. Training through peer-to-peer exchanges becomes efficient, tech support for remote locations becomes cost viable, and more robust measures of impact can inform development of key delivery systems.
By leveraging the benefits of breakout scale, we can then grow to 2.7m acres, ~25% of Micronesia reefs — and move to other parts of the Asia-Pacific Region.
It is critical that Asia-Pacific reefs are conserved and protected from overfishing, climate change, and more, both for the local people who have traditionally lived in concert with them, and for coral reefs’ global biological and cultural importance.