There's More to Islands ... OIA Conversations

On Choosing Coral Reef Fellows and the Importance of Coral Reefs - A Highlight

August 18, 2021 Tanya Harris Joshua / Wendy Wood-Derrer Season 1
There's More to Islands ... OIA Conversations
On Choosing Coral Reef Fellows and the Importance of Coral Reefs - A Highlight
Show Notes Transcript

OIA funds Coral Reef Fellows for the U.S. Territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In this important collaboration with NOAA, learn how the fellows are chosen and why coral reefs are worth protecting with Program Director Wendy Wood-Derrer.

For more information about the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs, visit our website at www.doi.gov/oia, follow on Twitter @InsularAffairs, and like us on 
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#WhatWeDoIslands | There's More to Islands ... #OIAConversations

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we get i would say
 

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anywhere between
 

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350 to 600 applicants um
 

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depending on the year and so the
 

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applications they
 

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you don't just apply to the fellowship
 

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because each jurisdiction has a very
 

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specific job and scope of work so they
 

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can vary immensely between the seven
 

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jurisdictions um here
 

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in the atlantic caribbean the coral
 

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disease unfortunately has really taken
 

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precedence in all three of our of our
 

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three
 

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jurisdictions here
 

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um in some of the pacific and in guam
 

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currently it's some mangrove and
 

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seagrass restoration which impacts our
 

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coral reefs so well it's not sort of
 

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corally specific so we were looking for
 

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someone that had some wetlands
 

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experience um
 

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and american summer where they're doing
 

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um they're starting off with their coral
 

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restoration and continuing to grow the
 

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coral restoration program so it's a very
 

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different skill set for each of the
 

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seven jurisdictions so applicants can
 

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apply
 

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to one that they feel very strongly
 

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they fits you know their background and
 

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the skills that they can bring to the
 

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table or we have people that apply to
 

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all seven you know they have a very
 

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broad
 

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um
 

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set of skills and and so tell me how the
 

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islands are involved in this you
 

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mentioned that do each of the island
 

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areas give you their priorities how does
 

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that work so we work very closely so um
 

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my partners at the noaa conservation
 

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program and i work very closely with
 

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each of the jurisdictions we start with
 

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the point of contact that represents
 

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that's that's um
 

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jurisdiction to the all islands
 

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committee we work with the point of
 

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contact and they really sort of develop
 

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this
 

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initial scope of work that is you know
 

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what fits into their priorities and what
 

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are they looking for what are they
 

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lacking in capacity and what do they
 

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really need this fellow to come in and
 

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really do
 

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and so then we work with them to make
 

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sure that it fits sort of the scope that
 

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it's
 

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you know we're not getting someone who's
 

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over they need someone who's
 

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overqualified that sort of thing and
 

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then it fits within the national
 

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priorities for coral reef management
 

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and so that's it you know a month month
 

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or two process we go back and forth we
 

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finalize the scope of work so the
 

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jurisdictions are heavily involved in
 

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determining what they need
 

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in on their island could you just remind
 

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us again why coral reefs are important
 

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and and
 

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how they impact our lives yes so coral
 

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reefs
 

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are very important for for many reasons
 

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um
 

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globally
 

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they provide
 

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coastal protection um and are ever
 

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increasing it seems like hurricane
 

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season
 

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in both the atlantic and the pacific
 

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basin they provide coastal protection
 

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against storm surge they provide
 

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fish habitat
 

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for both reef fish and then juvenile
 

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fish you know that's populate all areas
 

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of the coast
 

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which is especially important and i
 

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think in your smaller island communities
 

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where subsistence fishing you know it
 

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provides a large amount of protein for
 

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for many people worldwide especially
 

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when you get to
 

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you know
 

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developing countries and you know for
 

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indonesia the philippines where with the
 

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local fish it's it's not just a
 

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recreational
 

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activity
 

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it actually provides you know a large
 

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amount of protein for large populations
 

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um
 

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they're the biomedical the other people
 

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are still
 

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discovering
 

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biomedical resources that come from the
 

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ocean and you know is that cure for a
 

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type of cancer going to be found on
 

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a reef or from a reef species one day
 

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you know we still don't know there's
 

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still so much unknown
 

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um it provides biodiversity
 

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and and there's such rich habitats and
 

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one of the most diverse ecosystems that
 

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we have so i think that they're worth
 

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protecting and
 

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you know here in florida where people
 

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are like wow who even knew we had a reef
 

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and
 

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um you know i think in some of your
 

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smaller islands people are more familiar
 

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with it but it's this is why they are
 

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important for for many many reasons and
 

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and are worth being protected and