Ocean shipping line, ANL, is acting to protect marine biodiversity. Its coral reef nursery is on track to produce up to 3,000 coral fragments in its first year.
Coral reefs have the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet. They occupy less than 1% of the ocean floor yet are home to more than 25% of marine life – playing a critical role in maintaining stability in a coastal zone.
Coral Bleaching and Its Impacts
Coral bleaching is a sure sign of warming. When sea surface temperatures rise beyond critical thresholds, corals become stressed and expel the ‘algal symbiont’ that nourishes them and provides their colour. If the stressful conditions persist for more than a month, the corals can die, causing detrimental effect for other species of marine life.
The 1980s marked the first recorded episode of wide-scale coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, and has since seen severe events in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2016, 2017 and most recently 2020, due to unusually warm sea surface temperatures. In light of these events, ANL partnered with the Reef Restoration Foundation in December 2020 to launch ‘Reef Recovery’, a program dedicated to aid coral regeneration and biodiversity under water.
Acknowledging the World Reef Day on 01 June, ANL spoke to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Reef Restoration Foundation, Ryan Donnelly, to gain some insight on the role of coral reefs, the impacts of coral bleaching, the role of the Reef Restoration Foundation and how we, as everyday people, can make our mark on improving the quality of our coral reefs. As part of the CMA CGM Group, a world leader in shipping and logistics, ANL is firmly committed to protecting the environment and advancing the shipping industry’s energy transition.
The Four-Year Road to Reef Recovery
“The Reef Restoration Foundation was formed after the 2016 coral bleaching event that affected about a third of the world’s coral reefs, including extensive reef systems adjacent the northern 1,000km of the Great Barrier Reef, north of Cairns.” says Mr. Donnelly.
Following the 2017 coral bleaching event that affected reefs between Cairns and Townsville, the Reef Restoration Foundation was granted the first ever permit to undertake an intervention to aid recovery, establishing the first coral nursery on The Great Barrier Reef at Fitzroy Island.
“As a non-for-profit company, the Reef Restoration Foundation aims to accelerate the natural process of recovery by growing fragments of fast-growing coral on tree frames suspended in the water column. Here they gain greater and prolonged access to sunlight for photosynthesis and grow at an accelerated rate. Once the fragments have grown into sufficiently robust, semi-mature colonies, the Foundation plants them back onto the reef,” says the CEO.
Mr. Donnelly says that one of the most important responsibilities for the Reef Restoration Foundation is outreach and community awareness. “It is the role of explaining what we do and why within the context of the larger sphere of action on climate change and building ecosystem resilience. This includes rallying communities and outlining how individuals and organisations can become involved, which was a key driver of our own success in leading policy change to permit our activity within The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.”
ANL Launches the Reef Recovery Program
In December 2020, ANL launched the ‘Reef Recovery Program’ in partnership with the Reef Restoration Foundation, which seeks to aid in the coral reef’s regeneration and help alleviate impacts of the multiple coral bleaching events that have occurred in the last few years.
Chief Executive Officer of ANL Shane Walden says, “As an Australian based organisation with a strong focus on sustainability, ANL feels a responsibility to assist with coral regeneration and contribute to the solution for a healthy Great Barrier Reef. In such critical times, it is crucial for both businesses and individuals alike to bound together and mitigate the impacts of coral bleaching through donations and day-to-day activity.”
Establishing a fast-growing coral nursery just off the coast of Queensland at Fitzroy Island, ANL’s coral nursery has been maintained by a team of experts throughout the year to produce mature coral and be placed back on the Great Barrier Reef. The nursery is on track to produce up to 3,000 coral fragments in its first year.
In addition to this nursery in Australia, the CMA CGM group will soon extend the Reef restauration program to other places around the world, namely, the Indian ocean, the Philippines and the Caribbean Islands.
“The Reef Restoration Foundation’s partnership with ANL Container Line is a great example of action being taken at two very different scales. We are generating a culture of site stewardship and building resilience at coral reefs locally, whereas ANL has a strategy to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a grand scale. It is a complementary relationship and one that we recognise for its value” says Mr. Donnelly.
Editor’s Note: ANL is a member of Shipping Australia.