News / Industry News & Events / Parrotfish are key to save coral reefs of Providencia, Colombia (06/11/18)

Parrotfish are key to save coral reefs of Providencia, Colombia


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The catastrophic decline of coral reefs around the world has been under the attention of conservationists around the world for threats caused by humans such as overfishing, climate change, acidification of the oceans, among others. The island of Providencia has a bet to save them.

The island of Providencia, in the Colombian Caribbean, is taking a simple, innovative and effective alternative to protect the reefs that surround it to save the parrotfish. Parrotfish, a colorful and tropical fish, which bears its name through its beak-shaped mouth, is key to maintaining the health of coral reef ecosystems.

They feed mainly on algae, which grow without control over the coral, and if they do not have a species that consumes them and controls their growth, in this case, the parrotfish, eventually the reef dies. While the parrotfish is consuming the algae with its teeth, it breaks rocks and skeletons of coral, excreting fine sand, which contributes to the formation of the beaches of islands and atolls.

On World Oceans Day, conservation leaders on the island of Providencia, Colombia, started a project to protect the parrotfish, and therefore the coral reefs that surround it. The Providence Foundation, in collaboration with the North American Seacology organization, launched a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of parrotfish. The effort includes communication with local fishermen, restaurants, tour operators and schools. The final goal: to prohibit the fishing of parrotfish.

"We believe that the Island of Providence will lead what will become an international movement for the protection of parrotfish, hence the protection of coral reefs," says Duane Silverstein, Executive Director of the Seacology organization.