[Coral-List] ICRS and IYOR 2008: getting the word out

Administrator sysadmin at icriforum.org
Wed Jun 11 17:09:14 EDT 2008

Dear Sarah:
Thanks for raising this important matter. 

In fact, a lot of effort has been given to spread the word about the ICRI
International Year of the Reef and the 11th International Coral reef
Symposium at both the U.S. and the international level.  Regarding IYOR, to
date more than 15 countries have officially launched the Year and there are
more than 70 points of contact from countries and organizations around the
world supporting IYOR activities and events
(http://www.iyor.org/news/launch.asp). Many of these have already taken
place and there are still more to come.  I encourage you to view the
calendar of events page on the IYOR web site to see what's going on
(http://www.iyor.org). Regarding the 11th ICRS, we have had various email
and web announcement relatively continuously for the last year.  I'm sure
you have seen them.   Please go to the ICRS website for more info
But more specifically, regarding the apparent lack of diver awareness about
IYOR, we should first keep in mind that we are all working with a very
limited budget  (and thanks a lot to NOAA and the ICRI secretariat to
support IYOR and to the many wonderful sponsors including NOAA, DOI, and
others, supporting 11th ICRS). We have had to share 2008 with a lot of other
"year" events (Year of the Planet, International Polar Year, Year of the
Frog, Year of the Potato, Year of the Dolphin - which has been extended to
2008, not to mention World Ocean Day and World Environment Day, to name a
few.). We are trying to partner with some of these other years/events to
jointly raise awareness about coral reefs. For instance, the theme of the
recent World Ocean day was: "Helping our climate / helping our ocean" with a
special focus on coral reefs. In addition to all these existing events,
let's not forget the 2008 is also an election year in the US and
unfortunately, the media is focused on this as well as the economy and
rising food and gas prices.
In terms of specific actions to raise awareness to divers, several articles
have been published in various newsletters about IYOR.  For example, we had
a full page on the official publication of PADI: "Sport Diver".
Additionally, last October we made an effort to spread the word at the 2007
DEMA (Diving Equipment & Marketing Association) show in Orlando and DEMA
sent an email to all its members (over 1,400 member businesses, including
over 500 retailers from around the US) to let them know about IYOR and
encourage them to take action. We may also conduct an IYOR educational
workshop at the DEMA show this year in Las Vegas (October 22-28).  The 11th
ICRS has a great variety of field trips scheduled and hopes to generate
local interest in ancillary trips as well.  We welcome exhibitors and

In addition, this year NOAA, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
(NFWF), UrbanArts Institute at Mass College of Art and other Marine and
Ocean Conservation NGOs supported the production and distribution of a
series of six 30-second TV PSAs to educate the US public concerning
ocean-coral reef and coastal environmental education (www.iyor.org/tv).
Discussions are being held with major broadcasters (Time Warner - MTV -
Discovery Channel - HBO - CW Warner TV Network- National Alliance of
Broadcasters DC) and we expect some of them will start broadcasting the PSAs
In a separate U.S. messaging campaign, NOAA and NFWF have also supported a
series of five action messages developed as downloadable print
advertisements. They are freely available at:
Just recently, Project Aware, Wyland Foundation and Synchro Swimming USA
joined together to produce an International Year of the Reef PSA 2008
(available on the IYOR  youtube: www.youtube.com/iyor2008).  

ICRS is the keystone event of IYOR and we will use this important event to
keep raising awareness about coral reefs for the general public. Seaweb has
been contracted to handle all media relations of the 11th ICRS and is
developing press releases and media events. The Education Center will be a
highlight of the 11th ICRS Exhibits.
(http://www.nova.edu/ncri/11icrs/education.html). The Education Center is
open to the public and will be the draw for those interested in marine
conservation, with highlights included the 11th ICRS Photo Contest winners,
Wyland Mobile Learning Center and Dr. Judy Lang's update to the Caribbean
Coral Reefs Exhibit from the ICRS in Panama. 
Moreover, 11th ICRS is a scientific meeting, and not a public meeting. We
will use the findings of the Symposium to educate and alert the general
public about coral reefs. In terms of advertising for the meeting, we
thought that it is best to initiate a media campaign close to the start of
the meeting (journalist have a lot to deal with and forgot quickly). From a
marketing perspective, the only effective way to attract the audience to an
event such as this, is to advertise it to them a week, or at the most two,
before it starts. You should start seeing more press coverage within the
next weeks.
Your suggestion to have PSAs at airports is on target and we are open to
suggestions to achieve and fund this. We have made some initial efforts but
unfortunately it's very expensive to arrange (however there has been some
success to have some IYOR educational material placed in several airports in
Brazil). We have also tried to work with some major airlines to have PSAs
broadcasted on their in-flight programs but again we have not had success to
Regarding your comments about no activity in Cozumel, please look at the
Mexican IYOR page: 
http://www.iyor.org/focalpoints/countries/mexico/default.asp. You will
notice that Mexico release an IYOR phone call calling card. And correct,
Bonaire is very active:
http://www.divenewswire.com/NewsITems.aspx?newsID=9566 and will have a week
long celebration of IYOR at the end of June.
We also take this opportunity to draw your attention to "Reef Fest", a
series of music concerts happening in South Florida and beyond to raise
money and awareness for coral reef conservation! http://www.reeffest.org/
(which is one of the several activities in Florida)

We have still more than 6 months to go during IYOR, and hopefully will be
able to do more. I am open to suggestions to increase awareness of both ICRS
and IYOR and please visit the IYOR site to see what else is going on:

Sarah, if you can think of ways you and others can help spread the word,
please let us know and we will supply you any needed information.
Francis & Dick

Francis Staub
ICRI Secretariat
IYOR Coordinator
c/o AJH Environmental Services 
4900 Auburn Avenue - Suite 201 
Bethesda, MD 20814 
p. (+1) 240-395-0251
f. (+1) 240-395-0252 
c. (+1) 202-247-8670

Support the International Year of the Reef 2008: www.nfwf.org/iyor

Richard E. Dodge, Ph.D.
Dean, Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center
8000 N. Ocean Drive, Dania
FL 33004 USA; 
P. 954-262-3651

NSUOC: www.nova.edu/ocean 
NCRI: www.nova.edu/ocean/ncri
11th International Coral Reef Symposium 2008: www.nova.edu/ncri/11icrs


-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Sarah
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 12:14 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] ICRS and IYOR 2008: getting the word out

Dear Coral-Listers and ICRS organizers,
January this year to last weekend I have been scuba diving in the Miami-Fort
Lauderdale-Palm Beach area, using regular dive charters. Each time I had the
chance, I asked fellow divers in the boat, and the dive masters and boat
captains if they knew about the upcoming International Coral Reef Symposium
in Fort Lauderdale and associated outreach activities.
I was surprised to see that most of the divers asked did not know of such
event, have not seen it on the local newspapers, news media, and my mention
of it was the first time they knew such an event existed. And only 25 % knew
that 2008 is the International Year of the Reef.
Only the dive masters and captains of three dive shops knew about the
conference and IYOR: Prodive usa (which has now closed business), American
Dream and Pura vida divers (which are the two dive shops providing organized
trips for symposium attendees). 
Further, while flying in and out the Miami and Fort Lauderdale international
airports during the last 12 months, (which are likely the airports that will
absorb most of the symposium attendees, and are indeed the entry point for
Florida, Caribbean and connecting flights to the Americas), I did not see a
sign of any slide show, video, or visual aid related to the International
year of the Reef. I only saw a beautiful coral reef photo from NOAA in a
corridor connecting terminals D and E (I think that was the correct
direction) in Miami International Airport.
Maybe there is some PR campaign I don't know of, or maybe public service
announcements will be provided to the community at some point, but it seems
to me that a great opportunity to reach out to the general public and to
specific users (i.e. the scuba diving community) has been missed.
Considering the desperate situation of most of the coral reefs worldwide I
find this lack of exposure quite disturbing.
We are about the half way mark of IYOR and gearing up for ICRS.... so any
ideas on how to get the word out?

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. 
Marine Conservation Biologist
Ocean Research and Conservation Association, Fort Pierce, Florida, USA
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