The Ad Hoc The Ad Hoc Committee on Coral Reef Enforcement and Natural Resource Investigation (better known as Coral Reef CSI) was created in 2005 at ICRI’s 19th General Meeting. It was tasked with developing a standardized protocol to help marine Natural Resource Trustee (NRT) agencies in various ICRI countries investigate and collect evidence from a wide range of human-caused impacts on coral reefs (with startup funds from the US Department of State and NOAA).
Over the following years, an international program was developed by the International Coral Reef CSI Field Training Program (CRCSI, the working arm of the Ad Hoc Committee) to train natural resource managers and enforcement officers in underwater forensics and evidence collection. The basic principles set down early in the program included that:
- the standardized protocols taught are independent of any one country’s laws or rules;
- the field tools used are easily and inexpensively available in any country; and
- the focus remains on training multi-disciplinary, multi-agency teams in underwater evidence documentation and collection, focusing on chain-of-custody techniques.
Owing to the great demand for the program as well as feedback from sponsoring countries, over the past three years (since 2012), the Committee has completely re-tooled its program to address more directly specific concerns in specific topic areas. Currently five types of field training programs for NRT representatives are conducted:
- MPA Enforcement Field Investigation
- Vessel Grounding and Oil Spill Field Investigation
- Sea Turtle Field Forensics
- Aquatic Invasive Species Risk Assessment
- Illegal Marine Wildlife Trade Field Investigation
The Committee is chaired by Dave Gulko, and its CRCSI activities are run through the international NGO Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST).
Activities and achievements so far include:
- Development of a 278-page training toolkit and training materials . The training toolkit was developed for standardized coral reef enforcement and natural resource investigations, which can be adapted for use in any major coral reef region and applied to a wide variety of events. The materials include underwater flipbook aids, waterproof GPS cameras, homemade in-water documentation gear, field forensic packs containing supplies and materials for field investigations, and directed media evaluations.
- Development of multiple 6-7 day field training programs.
- Conduct of regional training workshops for coral reef resource managers and enforcement personnel. The CRCSI program has to date conducted over 23 field trainings around the globe, and trained over 700 natural resource trustee representatives from over 30 countries (as of April 2015).
- The Committee, who has its own team of trainers and counts over 20 members, has been extended several times. The most updated Terms of Reference were presented at ICRI’s 29th General Meeting.