The partnership will initially focus on specific locations in the Caribbean and the Red Sea where restoration efforts are especially needed
The MSC Foundation and the Ba’a Foundation announced today, at the inaugural MSC Bellissima stopover event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that they will join forces to advance coral conservation and help safeguard marine ecosystems. The 2 foundations, which share the goal of protecting and preserving the oceans, come together to advance the practice and science of coral reef restoration and, more importantly, to disseminate the knowledge gained to a global audience. . The goal of the association is to foster scientific understanding of best practices for functional restoration of coral reefs and to increase the area of actively restored reef habitat.
In the first phase of this association, a series of virtual scientific meetings will begin with the aim of sharing knowledge and experience to define specific areas of collaboration where it makes sense to do so through the ecoregions. A longer term goal will be to share knowledge and results with the wider scientific community and decision makers around the world, as well as visitors to these destinations, which will contribute significantly to global awareness of the need for everyone to play a role and act to protect the oceans.
Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems in the world and are home to more than 25% of marine species. They serve as food and an economic resource for 500 million people and protect coastal communities from storms and erosion. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists predict that between 70% and 90% of coral reefs are at risk of disappearing in the next two decades (2030-2050).
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, commented: “Our family business has a long seafaring tradition, and protecting the ocean is a core value for us. This is also at the heart of the work done by the MSC Foundation, and our efforts here they started with Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Thanks to the partnership with the Ba’a Foundation, in which commitment to the ocean is our common denominator, we can now be more global in our efforts. The Red Sea is home to some of the reefs most indigenous coral reefs in the world, and through the knowledge and research of experts and graduates of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, as well as the Ocean Cay research program,we can truly make a difference globally for the restoration of corals around the world, which is critical to ensuring the health of our oceans. ”
Bader Alrabiah, Executive Director of the Ba’a Foundation, highlighted the foundation’s desire to promote initiatives aimed at preserving the environment and culture through national and international partnerships to maximize the role of sustainability and development, in addition to enable initiatives in these vital sectors, noting that the Red Sea contains the most unique ecosystems and coral reefs in the world.
“The Ba’a Foundation aspires to realize its vision and mission through the participation of initiatives and strategies in projects as well as contributing to the general development of the non-profit sector through long-term sustainability with maximum efficiency. ” Alrabiah added.
The MSC Foundation is a private non-profit foundation created to lead, focus and advance the conservation, humanitarian and development commitments of the MSC Group and to use the global reach of MSC and its unique knowledge of the sea, in order to take immediate action to help protect and nurture the blue planet and all of its people. The Ba’a Foundation is dedicated to having an impact in two sectors: the environment and culture. Created in 2020, the Ba’a Foundation is already making significant progress in fostering and developing a strong sustainable ecosystem driven by cultural development and bringing life through initiatives to develop environmentally conscious practices.
The MSC Foundation’s flagship project centers on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, located in the Bahamas, 65 miles east of Miami. Once an industrial sand excavation site, Ocean Cay has been transformed by MSC Cruises – its operator – into a private island destination surrounded by crystal blue waters that is home to important marine species and coral habitats, now threatened by the degradation of oceanic conditions. The MSC Foundation, in collaboration with a team of scientists and environmental experts, is identifying resistant coral species and genotypes, colloquially referred to as “supercorals,” that have survived recent episodes of extreme ocean heat and other impacts on the waters that surround the island. The Foundation aims to restore the abundance and diversity of corals in the key by propagating and planting thermally tolerant coral species and genotypes. Over time, these regenerated sites will support strong and resilient ecological functionality and provide a lifeline for the region’s coral reefs, helping to ensure their future survival.
The Ba’a Foundation’s Red Sea conservation program is focused on ensuring a sustainable future for marine life in the region, and one of its main initiatives is recovering damaged coral reefs. This 5-year initiative will be carried out in 3 phases: the first will consist of an immediate intervention in the coral reefs of Jeddah. From there, the initiative will expand with the vision of becoming the largest coral reef recovery program in the world. The aim of the initiatives is to mitigate the direct human impact and risks of climate change on coral reefs, using science-based international best practices while promoting management through the participation and training of local stakeholders.
The coral reefs of the Red Sea are among the most diverse in the world. The corals in the central and northern Red Sea are considered to live in optimal conditions and have been scientifically shown to be able to tolerate relatively extreme conditions, including those caused by a changing climate.