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HomeNewsLocal newsTNC USVI Coral Innovation Hub Receives NOAA’s Coral Research Center Designation

TNC USVI Coral Innovation Hub Receives NOAA’s Coral Research Center Designation

Coral Restoration practitioner Delsa Gonzalez adds newly fragmented coral arrays to a nursery table for grow-out. (Photo courtesy TNC)

The Nature Conservancy’s U.S. Virgin Islands Coral Innovation Hub, a laboratory dedicated to advancing coral restoration science in the Caribbean and across the planet, has been designated as a Coral Reef Research Center (CRRC) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program.

In a letter to TNC, the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program director stated, “Your Coral Reef Research Center Interest Form demonstrated that TNC USVI Coral Innovation Hub meets the statutory criteria for a qualifying institution in a covered State under the Coral Reef Conservation Act (CRCA). 16 U.S.C. § 6411(b).” The NOAA correspondence goes on to state, “TNC USVI Coral Innovation Hub has been designated as a Coral Reef Research Center.”

The CRCA, a landmark legislation enacted to address the urgent need for coral reef protection, designates certain institutions as qualifying entities, empowering them with resources and support to advance critical research, conservation, and restoration efforts. The TNC USVI Coral Innovation Hub’s recognition as a qualifying institution underscores its pivotal role in the preservation and sustainable management of coral reefs in the United States Virgin Islands and beyond, according to the press release.

With the CRRC designation, the St Croix-based hub may participate in federal and non-federal coral reef stewardship partnerships, is eligible to apply for coral conservation grants under the Ruth D. Gates Coral Reef Conservation Grant Program, and can also apply for designation as the Atlantic Reef Research Coordination Institute, the press release stated.

Macallan Durkin, V.I. Aquaculture associate, demonstrates how to fragment corals for asexual reproduction. (Photo courtesy Marjo Aho)

Through cutting-edge research, innovative technologies, and strategic partnerships, the TNC USVI Coral Innovation Hub has demonstrated the ability to safeguard these vital marine habitats for future generations. According to NOAA, coral reef animals and plants provide potential medicinal cures for cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses, and other diseases. From coral restoration initiatives to community engagement programs, the Hub’s multifaceted approach exemplifies collaboration and innovation to restore the long-term health effects of coral reef ecosystems, the release stated.

Celeste Jarvis, director of the TNC USVI Program, expressed profound gratitude for the institution’s recognition under the CRCA. “This designation represents a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to protect and restore coral reefs in the United States Virgin Islands,” said Jarvis. “We are honored to be entrusted with this responsibility and we are dedicated to advancing coral reef conservation through science, innovation, and community engagement.”

The recognition of the TNC USVI Coral Innovation Hub as a qualifying institution under the CRCA underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing the global coral reef crisis. Through the collective expertise and resources of organizations, governments, and communities, a more sustainable future can be led for our planet’s coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend on them, according to the release.

Located at Estate Little Princess, the U.S. Virgin Islands Coral Innovation Hub was inaugurated in May 2023 and serves as a center for science and technology development that shares research and knowledge throughout the region and the world. The lab is located on the beachside of a 25-acre TNC nature preserve, it said.

For more information, contact Cleveland Sam at cleveland.sam@tnc.org.

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