Coral reef restoration expert in Samoa says restoration of coral reefs is essential as the rise in ocean temperature is causing a lot of coral bleaching

A local coral reef restoration expert in Samoa says there is a need to restore coral reefs due to the rise in ocean temperature which is contributing to coral bleaching.

Ferron Fruean, who is the founder of the non-governmental organisation Artificial Coral Reefs Samoa, told the Samoa Observer of the various projects he was involved with to reinvigorate re-grow coral reefs through the use of artificial reefs.

He said there was a need to restore reefs as the rise in temperature in the ocean is causing a lot of bleaching in the coral.

“To restore coral in the reefs we had to grow artificial reefs and they are established inside the fish reserve,” he said in an interview. 

He said there are artificial reefs that were made in 2017 produced through the fisheries management plan, and part of that programme stipulates roles and rules of villages to stop sand-mining and destructive fishing methods and establish fish reserves.

As an example, Fruean spoke of a coral nursery that his NGO created in Taumeasina, which he said became like a plant nursery.

“We established a coral nursery in Taumeasina so coral nurseries are like a plant nursery so we grow the coral first before placing them in the coral gardens. 

“It is like an underwater version of transplanting, but instead to raise corals so that you can place them in a restoration site where the coral garden grows.”

Currently attached with the Samoa Conservation Society as its Secretary, he said there are fish reserves in Amaile and Satitoa that he is also involved with.

“I love the environment, especially marine life, what is happening is that there are only a handful of marine experts in Samoa as there are more people focusing on terrestrial environmental causes,” he said. 

“So I dove into it for my love of the marine and now I have resources both human and technical to interact with communities who need the help.”

Fruean said Amaile and Satitoa have artificial reefs which are inside reef reserves which are currently projects run under the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

“A fish reserve is the same as a marine protected area, just different Ministries labelling differently,” he added.

According to the artificial reef creator, the restoration site of a reef is also important because while a team can go and work on a project, there has to be community ownership of the project’s running.

“So the team goes to the fish reserve of the marine protected area but it is very important it is done inside the fish reserve because the village enforces it, protected by law and that is why it is important to work together,” Fruean said.

“After a couple of years or a year, you will visually see the impact of the coral growth that was conducted. 

“You will also have to make sure that the site is free from land-based solutions and currents not too strong as exposure to wave energy is critical.”

And knowing how the tides work in the local coastal community, where the artificial reef project is based is also important, added Fruean. 

“We always do our work during low tide because safety is number one so when we plan monitoring we plan according to the tides, and sometimes we wait until morning tide, tai taeao,” he said. 

“By 11 am we have had enough then we go home to debrief so there are forms to monitor in terms of survival rate and features we look for such as partly bleached, mostly bleached, diseased and dead coral.

“Healthy coral have natural colourings like orange, pink and so forth.”

Fruean then talked about a project he recently worked with after he was engaged by the Tokelau Government.

“I recently set up coral reef restoration sites for Tokelau and it was quite amazing,” he said.

“The work was a joint partnership between the Ministry of Climate Ocean and Resilience of Tokelau government.”

Fruean told Samoa Observer that he takes groups who are interested in his work, trains them and sets up their coral reef restoration projects. 

Asked about his involvement with the Samoa Conservation Society, he alluded to great networking and important activities ahead.

“I am also active in the SCS because there is so much happening in the environment that we should be helping with,” he said. “I also enjoy listening to James Atherton, the SCS President because of his long experience in the field.

“We just have to know the right people to talk to and be passionate about what we feel is important, then things happen for us.

“Yes, I now provide that service. I have been building it up since 2017. I actually make the equipment required to restore coral in my carpentry business as I am a builder too,” he said.

This story was written by Fuimaono Lumepa Hald, originally published at Samoa Observer on 10 June 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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