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Support a new generation of ocean fishermen, divers and sailors to adapt marine ecossystems to current climate change impacts



Much is spent on monitoring coral reefs, but less to protect them. 

Coral reefs have a huge influence on the life of people in the Caribbean. They function as natural breakwaters along the coasts and represent one of the most important natural resources for food, beach sand and building materials.

These corals are being threatened by sea level rise, a rise in sea surface temperature and an increase in extreme weather events. Martinique for example, has lost in specific sites about 30% of its coral reefs in one year time (2005-2006). Furthermore, due to the increase in sea surface temperature many species will likely have to migrate to where the sea surface temperature is more moderate, potentially moving human population as well.

A more resilient coastal ecosystem can reduce the vulnerability of the fishermen since they are not exposed to high waves and storm in the open water and are able to earn their living in areas close to the coast as they did in the past.

Nowadays, a few initiatives throughout the world have been deploying artificial reefs as means to enhance marine life. An artificial reef is a man-made underwater structure that mimic the characteristics of a natural reef, typically built to promote marine life in areas with featureless bottom, to control erosion, block ship passage, or improve surfing.

Artificial reefs can also serve as an adaptation to climate change solution, if deployed in areas where saline intrusion is a risk due to sea level rise. A key factor of the efficiency of artificial reefs is the community's participation and their sense of ownership. Submerged shipwrecks are the most common form of artificial reef. They easily become a "Mecca" for divers, who want to explore marine life around them.

We believe that fishermen, divers and sailors can work together. 

This proposal seeks to enhance resilience by rebuilding natural reef systems that once protected coastal communities from violent storms, using restorative species and artificial reefs.

Category of the action

Mitigation/Adaptation, Changing public attitudes about climate change

What actions do you propose?

The project will train a network of fishers, sailors and divers to:

- build their own artificial reef sculpture, considering their own/local knowledge; 

- introduce artificial reefs into the ocean together with native species of marine plants;

- record the spots where artificial reefs were placed and view the data on  phone;

- promote the app as means to attract tourism; and

- link the information available on the app with existing research database, such as (which provides interactive maps showing locations of confirmed bleaching events or disease at locations monitored by scientists).  

Who will take these actions?

Do Clima is a do-tank created by enthusiastic climate activists and adaptation policy makers from Brazil. We have been involved in climate impact assessments, hundreds of climate talk shops, a few adaptation policy development as well as infinite wordsmithing. We believe our generation has to use its weapons (smart technology, crowd sourcing, action labs) to solve the climate change problem in our time. So we are not asking what we can do, we are doing!

Do Clima is physically based on the most adapted vessel possible: a sailboat! SV Rogue is currently docked in Charlestown, Massachusetts after making her way from Europe to the Caribbean in 2014 and then here in 2015.

Our virtual, lean, clean organization consists of 5 associates and 5 board members. Our board is the the think tank, and the associates and staff are the "do-tank"or "do-boat".

We will work together with local communities and local governments to act on participatory, relevant, practical and replicable solutions.

We aim to partner with initiatives like the Reef Resilience Program, which has been training the diving and tourism to participate in bleaching monitoring and response plans. 

We also aim to partner with British artist Jason de Caires Taylor, which used "life casts" made from materials that encourage coral growth to create incredible, massive sculptures installed in the sea bed. With only a few sculptures, he has been able to reduce the impact over half a million tourists have on the Cancun's natural reefs every year.

Where will these actions be taken?

Communities in Caribbean island nations which have been severely affected by heat waves and coral bleaching events, and where the natural reefs have been severely damaged. 

In order to take action, we will approach small island nations where bleaching has been very serious in the recent past as well as Puerto Rico. The idea is to work on a pilot that can be scalable and replicable in other island nations afterwards. 

What are other key benefits?

Close the citizen-scientist gap, by promoting action that is supported by research and that foster further collaboration

Support economic activities dependent on the oceans 

What are the proposal’s costs?

Materials for building the artificial reefs/sculptures $2,000

Workshop for building the reefs with local community $500

Installation of the artificial reef by sailboat $100

App-building, testing and implementing $3,900

Total: $6,500

Time line

In the short term (June-December 2016), the initiative will revolve around preparation of guidelines for the construction, building partnerships and approaching a community which wants to get this work done. 

From December 2016 to July 2017, the preparation will turn into practical matters, with the transportation of a sailing vessel to the Caribbean with materials, workshop, documentation and installation of the reefs. 

By July 2017, the proof-of-concept will be monitored by the app and results will be shared with other communities that may eventually opt for this adaptation strategy, in an even lower-cost basis. 

In the medium term, we hope to have created a network of new reefs and to see marine life thriving in a (unfortunately) warmer ocean. 

Related proposals


McLeod, E., A. Green, E. Game, K. Anthony, J. Cinner, S. F. Heron, J. Kleypas, C.E. Lovelock, J.M. Pandolfi, R.L. Pressey, R. Salm, S. Schill, and C. Woodroffe. 2012. Integrating Climate and Ocean Change Vulnerability into Conservation Planning, Coastal Management 40(6): 651-672.

Ohio State University. "For corals adapting to climate change, it's survival of the fattest, most flexible." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2014. .

The Economist.

The Atlantic.