The 2023 Mirpuri Foundation Ocean Award, in partnership with the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), was presented in Cascais, at the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy awards ceremony, and granted to Tamara Stuij. The 29 year old student from The Netherlands won the Award with the scientific poster “The Potential of Humic Substances to Improve Coral Reef Resilience”.
Ms. Stuij commented: “It is great to experience that people care about our oceans and acknowledge the importance of research in our search for solutions to improve the current, critical state of coral reefs. Participating in the competition was a great stimulator for me to present my research in a comprehensive, fun, and understandable way. Something so important but also quite challenging! Receiving this award is a great honor for me and our team. We are deeply grateful and excited to see that the main focus of my Ph.D. research has received such significant recognition. This acknowledgment serves as a strong motivation for us to continue our work with renewed enthusiasm”.
Currently a Ph.D. student at the Laboratory for Molecular Studies of Marine Environments (LEMAM) at Aveiro University and a research fellow of the 4D-REEF project (www.4d-reef.eu), Tamara Stuij studies the past, present, and future of coral reefs in the coral triangle, in collaboration with more than 40 researchers, including 18 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), from 14 different institutions across Europe and Southeast Asia.
The winner was chosen by an esteemed panel of sustainability and coral reef experts from dozens of candidates. Two other projects received honorable Mentions: “Together for a Clean Ocean – Building a Community to fight marine plastic pollution” from Seaqual Initiative and “Unveiling the Role of fluorescent proteins in the Response of Mesophotic Corals to a rapidly changing environment” by Giulia Marchioro from her Ph.D. project at the Vienna Doctoral School of Ecology and Evolution, University of Vienna.
Heightening awareness of the importance of preserving our oceans is one of the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy´s greatest objectives, considered one of the most sustainable in the world.
The Ocean Award, as part of the Mirpuri Foundation Marine Conservation Program, recognises and celebrates the excellence of the scientific community and awards a monetary prize to the most innovative project with a positive impact on the health of our oceans.
In addition, ICRI created a poster on the importance of coral reefs to be showcased at the event. Coral reefs cover more than 100 countries and territories and whilst they only cover 0.2% of the seafloor, they support at least 25% of marine species and underpin the safety, coastal protection, wellbeing, food and economic security of hundreds of millions of people. However, coral reefs have declined at alarming rates in recent years and we are at risk of losing these vital ecosystems if trajectories continue.
The poster aimed to introduce ICRI to a range of stakeholders including the private industry, to expand the coral reef community, directly contributing to the ICRI Plan of Action 2021 – 2024: Turning the Tide for Coral Reefs, under Theme 4. Moreover, the poster also brought to the attention of those in attendance information regarding:
- The value of coral reefs
- Status of Coral Reefs
- Conservation Efforts
Global concerted efforts with all major stakeholders are needed for the management, protection, and restoration of coral ecosystems worldwide. It is in this context, ICRI plays a vital role. ICRI, a global partnership of 95 members, including 45 countries representing over 75% of the world’s coral reefs, leads the way in bringing together coral reef nations, organisations and stakeholders. The initiative informs international efforts to conserve reefs and provides a forum for the global advocacy on coral reefs to support policy makers and stakeholders at the local and national levels #ForCoral