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Coral gene bank planned for Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos, Q.R. — A new coral reef restoration project that will see the creation of a gene bank has been announced by federal authorities.

In a statement, el Instituto Nacional de Pesca y Acuacultura (Inapesca), the federal agency of fishing and aquaculture, said that they are working on reducing the effects of white syndrdom disease that continues to affect the region.

The institute says that the disease was detected in el Parque Nacional Arrecife de Puerto Morelos coral in the summer of 2018, with grooved brain coral (Orbicella) being the most affected. They say that the coral reefs are not only a protective barrier against natural disasters, but also a tourist attraction and home to many species used for commercial purposes.

They report that approximately 2,500 producers rely on the area for the 700 tons of fish and 300 tons of lobster fished for commercially each year by local fishermen. Now with the detection of white syndrome, the institute is looking to decrease the growth of the disease by setting short, medium and long-term objectives.

One of those objectives is a project to establish the first coral germplasm bank for its ex situ conservation through samples at the Centro Regional de Investigación Acuícola y Pesquera in Puerto Morelos.

They report that they are currently working on another coral reef restoration project that will produce 265,000 coral colonies in the laboratory, a project planned for completion in 2022.