Restoring the coral reef with CURAPROX

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Restoring the coral reef with CURAPROX

Marinecultures.org shows that active marine protection can be economically more successful than marine resource overuse. Swiss oral health company Curaden provided the organisation with brushes for coral farming and reforestation of damaged reefs. (Photograph: Thomas Sacchi)
Kasper Mussche, DTI

By Kasper Mussche, DTI

Thu. 13 September 2018

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Marinecultures.org is a small, donor-funded organisation whose mission is to help protect and manage the coral reefs while improving the living conditions of those who depend on it. Through sustainable sponge and coral farming, the organisation offers the people of Jambiani in Zanzibar an alternative to the poorly paid cultivation of seaweed. Swiss oral health brand CURAPROX has contributed to the efforts by supplying brushes that are handy in cleaning the corals. Dental Tribune Online spoke with co-founder and President of marinecultures.org Thomas Sacchi.

“In recent years, the acidification of the oceans has been steadily increasing as a direct result of the increasing CO2 concentrations in the air,” Sacchi explained. “Together with the rising ocean temperatures, this has led to a strong decline of the coral reefs. The fishermen in Zanzibar rely heavily on intact coral reefs as breeding grounds for many species of fish. So, in addition to the cultivation of sponges as another source of income, we also started protecting and reforesting the coral reefs. Coral reefs are like proper rainforests when it comes to their significance to our world and, of course, us.”

Why is an organisation like marinecultures.org necessary?
We show, in detail, how it’s possible to sustainably deal with the ocean and how the local population can be involved. Before, the population was dependent on fishing and seaweed. Although seaweed is included in many foods and cosmetics, it is only able to be sold for a very low price. The alternative we offer is sustainably grown sponges.

We set up and operate sponge farms with the locals, support their sales and train mainly single mothers until they become independent. We are present on site long term. The project is deeply connected with the local population, so we work with them instead of volunteers from other countries. This distinguishes us from many other organisations working in Zanzibar. In addition, we prevent mooring buoys and anchors from damaging the coral, place reef balls [artificial coral reefs], breed corals and reforest destroyed reefs, establish protected zones for octopuses and launch awareness programmes.

You use CURAPROX toothbrushes for managing the coral farms. Why?
We use toothbrushes for taking care of the corals in our coral farm. However, old, used toothbrushes are difficult to find in Zanzibar, so CURAPROX sent us our first large pack of CS 5460 brushes. The toothbrushes are great for cleaning the corals because of their small brush heads and excellent bristle quality. The bristles are soft and do not fall out. The toothbrushes are first distributed to the people, before being used as cleaning brushes in the coral farm. With an average annual income of US$1,000, a toothbrush is a big purchase for many people in Zanzibar.,

How does the Curaden philosophy fit with the marinecultures.org philosophy?
We both share a vision of a healthier world. On an ecological level: many toothpastes contain microplastics that enter and damage the ocean waters. It needs to be pointed out that these products should no longer be produced and used. In this respect, CURAPROX only uses natural products and no microplastics.

2018 is the International Year of the Reef. What does that mean for marinecultures.org?
It is a good opportunity for us to benefit from the increased international attention for the subject and draw focus to our work, goals and needs. Since we do a great deal of free work and work predominantly with local people, the long-term financing of our projects is always a challenge.

Finally, what was a highlight for you?
Proving that sponge farming works was a real highlight for us, as well as that we have a species that grows well and that our business model works.

Brushing Corals CS 5460 Curaprox Marinecultures Sacchi Sponges Thomas

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