What can we do to save the coral reefs? That’s what a group of students from Delft asked themselves this summer. They came up with Reef Support – managing reefs by using an integrated platform and satellite imagery to provide useful data insights for coral reef health. Only half a year later, they won the Copernicus Masters – a price handed out to those who have the best solution using earth observation data. Who is behind this idea and what’s their mission? Time to find out!
Who founded Reef Support?
Reef Support was founded by a group of passionate engineers and marine biologists. Marcel Kempers & Yohan Runhaar are the actual founders, but the team is supported by five other dedicated collegues who have one goal in common: To Support our Reefs.
What does Reef Support do?
Today, aquaculture production accounts for half of global seafood production and the industry is starting to embrace production standards that mitigate negative social and environmental ramifications, and the potential applications for of marine space data is still in its infancy today. Besides this, coral bleaching, overfishing, destructive fishing methods and unsustainable tourism put our reefs and ecosystems all at risk. While adherence to responsible production and marine practices has traditionally been verified by in-person monitoring and audits, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a robust, easy-to-access and remote capability. Reef Support replaces manual audits with a platform (web & phone app) that analyzes data from farmers and coastal managers and satellite data to form useful insights and guidelines. Here, the Sentinels of the ESA Copernicus program is our ally.
What’s Reef Supports’ mission?
The mission of Reef Support is to capture commitments and practical actions, and to bring together the key players needed for this. Despite occupying less than 1% of the ocean’s surface, coral reefs support around a quarter of known marine species, including more than 4000 species of fish and 7000 species of coral, with an estimated worth of US$9.9 trillion to the human economy. We believe monitoring technology only goes so far without the adoption of practical steps, the solutions thus lie in the strength of the space as well as the blue community. And we are proud to already have a strong list of supporters behind our mission. Thus for 2021 we are consolidating a big list of partners and sponsors who are involved in coral reef conservation and sustainable seafood production.
What do you hope to have accomplished in five years from now?
In 5 years, we would want to be fully operational in all continents supporting everyone’s reefs and beaches, maybe even in Antarctica to track movement of ice sheets and penguin migration – who knows! We would want to have made a clear quantifiable impact on slowing the degradation of one of our planet’s most diverse grounds: our reefs.
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Pics – Reef Support