March 20, 2017 — Twice a week, fisherman Romould Compton puts on scuba gear to dive to the seabed and clean tiny elkhorns growing in the coral nursery off the Caribbean island of Carriacou, tending them until they can be transplanted to a damaged reef nearby.
He hopes his conservation work will help to bring back more of the fish, such as red snapper, king butterfish and hind, that many islanders depend on.
“In my area we depend on the reef for our survival and livelihoods, and a lot of reef is dead,” said Compton by phone from Windward, Carriacou, one of the lush, mountainous islands that make up Grenada in the southeast of the Caribbean.
“A lot of unemployment has been happening so we’ve got to turn to the sea to keep our livelihood going.”
Across the Caribbean, scores of projects are underway to restore battered coral reefs and replant damaged mangroves, crucial to livelihoods from fishing and income from the millions of tourists who flock to the tropical beaches each year.
The intricate reefs and salt-tolerant mangrove swamps also offer protection against storms and hurricanes on climate-vulnerable islands which often lack resources to build extensive engineered coastal defenses.