The Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean
Plenary Speakers
Photo: Mr. Jake Kheel Mr. Jake Kheel
Vice President
Fundación Grupo Puntacana
Bio: Jake Kheel is a sustainability innovator, thought-leader, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. For more than a decade he has confronted social and environmental challenges in the tourism industry as vice president of Grupo Puntacana Foundation in the Dominican Republic. He leads one of the Caribbean’s most expansive coral reef conservation efforts; helped implement Zero Waste at Grupo Puntacana, the first and largest integrated solid waste program in the country; and directs the Center for Sustainability, a think tank for sustainable development. He has led numerous high impact sustainability programs in the Dominican Republic that have been replicated in other destinations and companies. Under his leadership, Grupo Puntacana has received numerous international awards, including awards from World Tourism and Travel Council, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, and National Geographic Traveler. Jake regularly presents at international conferences; writes in Spanish and English publications; and serves as an expert on environmental issues on international news outlets. He is the President of the National Association of Businesses for Environmental Protection (ECORED) and serves on several not-for-profit board of directors..

Photo: Dr. Nicolas Pascal Dr. Nicolas Pascal
Executive Director
UNDP Blue Finance
Bio: Nicolas Pascal, conservation finance expert. Nicolas’ expertise combines marine science, economics, finance and policy; all aimed at protecting marine ecosystems. On the marine side, his more than 50 economic studies, scientific publications and technical reports on ecosystem services of coral reefs, have been used globally, to inform and convince policy makers. He has also supported the creation of several MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) in Oceania and in the Caribbean and designed their sustainable financing mechanisms. On the business side, Nicolas’ former positions include investment director and project developer for multinational 8 companies as well as founder and CEO of a B2B company. These dual skill sets now inform marine conservation, inspiring alternatives and new approaches. Nicolas is the founder and director of Blue finance, developing impact investment solutions for marine conservation, livelihood improvements and climate change resilience. The Blue finance mission is to ensure efficient management and sustainable financing of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Blue finance structures joint partnerships between the public and private sectors for coral reef conservation, livelihood improvements and climate change resilience in the Caribbean and SE Asia..
Presentation: Shifting governance on ocean conservation and management: are we ready for market approaches?

Coral reefs provide exceptional biodiversity and ecosystem services for local economies. However, globally they are in decline and in the Caribbean, greater than 50% of the reefs have been reported to be lost in the last 50 years. Furthermore, as a result of climate change, the Caribbean region is facing rapid ocean warming, increased intensity of storms and hurricanes (among others) thus reducing the capacities of remaining Caribbean reefs to sustain themselves and recover from acute stress events. Imminent actions have been identified at local, regional and global scales.

By controlling local impacts, such as land-based sources of marine pollution and unsustainable fishing practices, managers hope to ensure that coral reefs are more resilient to global impacts. Measures such as the development of Marine Spatial Plans, the designation of Marine Management Areas and the use of ecological engineering are among the most effective tools used in the protection of threatened reefs. To be successful though, marine conservation via these and other measures, requires financing and management resources that can exceed public budget priorities.

During the last five years, a community of investors seeking positive social and environmental in addition to financial returns have stepped in to fill the marine conservation financing gap. These Impact Investors have invested over US$8 billion since 2004 in food and agriculture, forestry, habitat protection, clean water initiatives, and other conservation projects. With respect to marine biodiversity, a small but positive track record of impact investments has demonstrated the feasibility of achieving environmental, social and financial returns.

Current reports have revealed at least US$3.1 billion in committed capital, sitting on the sidelines, awaiting attractive deals. To capture some of this capital, recent approaches seek to provide a diversified portfolio of investments in marine conservation, shifting governance models and management approaches.

We will review a selection of these mechanisms which are still in proof-of-concept (such as parametric reef insurance, public-private partnerships, biodiversity offsets and payments for ecosystem services) and show how marine conservation models can be design to capture some of the investment capital to assist in filling the conservation gap.

Photo: Dr. Charles Sheppard Dr. Charles Sheppard
Emeritus Professor
University of Warwick
Bio: Dr. Sheppard holds a half-time position of Professor in the School of Life Sciences at The University of Warwick, UK. The remainder of his time he works for a range of UN, Governmental and aid agencies in tropical marine and coastal development issues. He advises several governments on marine and coastal management and science, including the UK Government on its tropical Overseas Territories. Research interests include community ecology, particularly the effects of natural and anthropogenic stresses on ecosystems, especially (since 1998) on ecosystem responses to climate change. Other interests include: Coastal Management and conservation projects in the Caribbean; marine habitat research in numerous tropical countries. GIS based coastal zone management development for lesser developed countries; Research on the recent episodes of massive reef mortality in the Indian Ocean; marine biodiversity research, using remote sensing, in tropical marine ecosystems; investigation of community changes along pollution and sedimentation gradients.
Presentation: Why are corals not like they were in the good old days?

Research on the exceptionally high diversity and productive coral reef system and its conservation has increased in the last 30 years as fast as in many other fast-growing scientific subjects.  But, in stark contrast to the other subjects, for example medical research, the condition of reefs worldwide continues to decline. This is because the main impediment for reef conservation today is no longer one of scientific knowledge, but is political.

It has been shown repeatedly, in many different ways, what the value of reefs are for provision of food, for shoreline protection, and for the economies of many countries: it can no longer be claimed that we do not know the value of coral reefs to us, and by ‘us’ I mean not only those people living on top of them in the tropics but the value to the whole, integrated, global ecosystem.  Economic estimates of coral reefs extend to a third of one million dollars per hectare per year.  This excludes social costs, but it does show economists and governments that the living component of our planet should be considered more centrally.

The reasons for the decline of reefs are well understood, and it is known that these reasons are not the same as those that prevent reefs recovering after an impact.  The latter are more varied according to location. Reasons for decline are now pre-eminently the extended warming episodes that are affecting our oceans, while the reasons for reefs not recovering afterwards are commonly local in origin: raised nutrients, overfishing, shoreline disturbance etc.  In areas such as the Arabian Gulf over 80% of reefs have essentially disappeared but, this is commonly met with disbelief in government circles. Many other areas of the world are declining as quickly.

Management remains very inadequate, indeed in many places the term ‘reef management’ is an oxymoron filled with hubris.  This is not a scientific failure but rather it is political failure. Prognoses are, sadly, for a further decline as the principal reason now for reefs being killed, i.e. warming episodes, are increasing both in intensity and frequency. For many regions of the tropics we are now at or possibly beyond that cusp of when frequency of recurrence of these reef-killing episodes is exceeding the ability of reefs to recover during cooler periods between them.  Implications to biodiversity (because reefs support nearly a quarter of all marine species), to shoreline and property erosion, and to food security are enormous.

Photo: Dr. Stephen Monismith Dr. Stephen Monismith
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Stanford University
Bio: Dr. Monismith's research in environmental and geophysical fluid dynamics involves the application of fluid mechanics principles to the analysis of flow processes operating in rivers, lakes, estuaries and the oceans, with a particular interest in the ecological impacts of those flows. His current research includes studies of estuarine hydrodynamics and mixing processes, flows over coral reefs and on the inner shelf, turbulence in density stratified fluids, and physical-biological interactions in phytoplankton and benthic systems. Current projects include field and computational work on wave-driven flows over coral reefs, stratified turbulence due to shoaling internal waves, benthic grazing on coral reefs and in kelp forests, dispersion in complex estuarine tidal flows, and lab and computational studies of flows through coral colonies. Professor Monismith is currently director of the Environmental Fluid Mechanics Laboratory and Chair of Stanford University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering,

Photo: Mr. Francisco Rainieri Marranzini Mr. Francisco Rainieri Marranzini
Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer
Grupo Puntacana
Bio: Frank Rainieri Marranzini is the president and CEO of Grupo Puntacana, and a recognized leader and visionary of the Tourism industry in the Dominican Republic. Mr. Rainieri began his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Saint Joseph College in Philadelphia, which he concluded at APEC University in Santo Domingo. Over the past 20 years, Mr. Rainieri and his family have provided the original inspiration, leadership and enthusiasm that has made Punta Cana one of the most successful and popular resort destinations in the world. Currently, Puntacana is the most highly visited Caribbean destination. Mr. Rainieri developed and owns the Punta Cana International Airport, a modern, convenient and architecturally exciting facility. At the 15,000-acre Puntacana Resort & Club, Mr. Rainieri has created a resort community that sets the new standard for excellence in Caribbean vacations and residential living. Frank Rainieri has received numerous awards. These include the Presidential Citation award presented to him by Ronald Reagan in 1985, and the “Hotelier of the Year” award by the Caribbean Hotel Association in 1998. In 2003, he was lauded by the president of Counterpart International for his role in keeping sustainable tourism development issues at the forefront of Caribbean tourism thinking. In addition to being the President and CEO of Grupo Puntacana, he is the President of the Grupo Puntacana Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the environment in Puntacana.

Photo: Dr. Francisco Dominguez Brito Dr. Francisco Dominguez Brito
Former Attorney General of the Dominican Republic
Former Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources
Bio: Domínguez received a law degree at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) and a master’s of Civil Law at Panthéon-Assas University in Paris, France. In 2004 he became Attorney General for the Dominican Republic leading new initiatives for reforming procedural processes and improving citizen access to documents. By presidential Decree, Brito was name Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources in 2016 a role that he would serve with great success. Amongst his biggest successes were the intervention and rescue of the Valle Nuevo National Park, relocating small farmers outside the national park, ensuring a water source for approximately 6 million people. During his tenure, 90 million trees were planted in the mountain ranges in the south of the country. He also promoted social empowerment by reaching out to NGO’s in the decision-making process related to the natural environment by establishing dozens of agreements for the Co-management of protected areas. Brito, supported the Grupo Puntacana Foundation’s and other NGO’s initiatives to protect important marine species and in 2017, thanks in part to Blue Finance, Grupo Puntacana Foundation, The Dominican Foundation for Marine Studies, and others, declared an indefinite off-season for rays, sharks, and sea urchins and a two-year band on the capturing, possession, consumption, and commercialization of parrot fish.
Photo: Dr. Anastazia Teresa Banaszak Dr. Anastazia Teresa Banaszak
Research Professor
Unidad Académica de Sistemas Arrecifales
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México
Bio: Anastazia Banaszak is a full-time Research Professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico at its campus in Puerto Morelos, the Reef Systems Academic Unit located in the Mexican Caribbean.

Her undergraduate education was at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, followed by a doctorate degree at the University of California in Santa Barbara, USA. This was followed by a postdoctoral appointment at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland, USA.

Her research interests include the photobiology of phytoplankton, corals and organisms that inhabit coral reefs, as well as the biology and reproductive ecology of corals. Recently, she has been involved in research on best practices for the cultivation of sexual recruits of various species of invertebrates particulaly corals as well as researching low-cost methods to upscale of larval propagation for use in restoration projects.

She is editor for the scientific journal Coral Reefs, PeerJ and guest editor at Frontiers in Marine Science. She is president of the MesoAmerican Reef Restoration Network, a board member of the International Society for Reef Studies, member of the scientific advisory councils of the Healthy Reef Initiative and SECORE International, as well as of the steering and larval propagation committees of NOAA´s Coral Restoration Consortium.
Presentation: Coral Reef Restoration: Advances and Challenges

Over the last 4 decades, the populations of Acropora palmata and A. cervicornishave suffered drastic losses due to disease and increased sea surface temperatures coupled with natural catastrophes. The result is a loss of reef structure and function throughout the Caribbean leading to phase shifts to algal-dominated reefs. Despite the implementation of management actions recovery is not compensating the losses. The impacts of climate change and development associated with tourism cause continuous damage to the environment, making the natural processes of reef ecosystem recovery slow and difficult. Given the speed of this environmental deterioration, the persistence of coral reefs is questionable. Over the last two decades, active restoration programs have been incorporated as a response to try to stop or reverse the decline of reef ecosystems. Initially, restoration practices were designed to remedy specific disturbances, such as ship groundings or hurricanes, using “fragments of opportunity”; more recently, active pruning of stock colonies is used to supply fragments for restoration projects. These fragments are not genetically diverse and potentially susceptible to diseases and thermal stress. New techniques based on sexual propagation aim to improve genetic diversity and gene flow and connectivity between populations. Advances in research on the use of sexual recruits in reef restoration, especially ofAcropora in the Caribbean are presented as well as the development of techniques to upscale restoration techniques while reducing costs.
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