The Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) is on a mission to sensitise Barbadians of the value and benefit of coral reefs.

The International Coral Reef Initiative has designated 2008 as the International Year of the Reef and the CZMU will stage several activities to educate the public about and draw attention to coral reefs and the marine environment.

There will be a ceremony to launch the activities this Wednesday, January 9, at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination. Director of the CZMU, Dr. Leo Brewster, will deliver an address, while his deputy, Dr. Lorna Inniss, will give welcome remarks. 

Coral reefs are especially important to small island states like Barbados, whose economies are built on the strength of their marine and coastal ecosystems. However, over the past decade coral reef health has declined considerably here and globally.

In response to this dramatic decrease in the health of the reefs, the year has been designated with three primary goals. They are to strengthen awareness about the ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems; to improve understanding of the critical threats to reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce them; and, to generate urgent action to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems.

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