Original environment rehabilitation manual 3.362
In most cases, you will need to use the results from your underwater survey as part of your application for an environmental permit. You may only need an artificial reef permit, or you may need both an artificial reef permit and a permit to work with corals or other protected species. Permit procedures vary widely by country and location, and may be quite difficult or costly to obtain, especially if you have not been through the process before. Check with your local authorities well in advance to learn the procedures that are required to obtain the appropriate permits for your project. In some countries, it is nearly impossible for grassroots organizations to get their own permits; the United States is a prime example. In these cases, it is best for your organization to partner with governmental organizations or entities that can obtain the permits. Taking this one step further, we feel that it is important to re-iterate that in any country, for any project it is best to partner with local government and scientific organizations, even if you are going to be issued your own permits. Incorporating as many as possible of important stakeholders and user groups into a project is critical to the success of the project in every stage from planning, to surveying, permitting, implementation, and monitoring. It does not matter which group you represent, or what your goals are, attempting a project alone is much more likely to lead to failure. If you have not done so already, often, the permitting process will help you make linkages to these groups. Instead of thinking about the permitting process as a bureaucratic necessity; use the opportunity to strengthen your rehabilitation project by making important connections.
Note: you will probably have had to work through all 10 steps before applying for your permit. Most permits will require a large amount of detail about the materials, methods, and expertise associated with the project.
Permitting can be easier if you select base materials that have a proven track record of success in similar environments, and can be more difficult if you use novel materials, or novel applications. In our experience, we have found that having scientists, experts or certified volunteers on your team will aid in obtaining permits to work with live corals or other animals. In some cases, you will need a doctorate level Principal Investigator (PI) to oversee the project if you plan on applying for research permits. A tightly defined goal set, along with a clearly defined project ethic will also aid in portraying your intent to regulatory agencies. In many cases, the permitting process has developed from the need to control practices that are damaging to the environment. For example, many of the rules for permitting of artificial reefs have been generated to protect against projects which are simply a clever spin on disposal of unwanted materials. When these factors are considered, it is not surprising that the permitting process can be more burdensome than one might first expect for a rehabilitation project. Similarly, there have been many attempts to rescue or relocate coral that have resulted in failure and unintended consequences. When you have finished reading this manual, we think you will appreciate the complexity in working with corals; and why a conservative step by step approach is needed to minimize risk in this sensitive field. By gaining the knowledge, skills and ability to safely handle corals through reading and applying the skills demonstrated in this manual, and monitoring your results; in the future you will be able to more easily convince regulatory agencies that you can successfully accomplish your project without negative consequences. As we have stressed, a carefully designed transparent process which incorporates as many local stakeholders as possible will strengthen your team, and strong teams impress regulatory agencies more than any other factor.
Note: In emergency rescue situations, nearly all governments have processes for immediate issue of permits; or to allow work to begin before permits are secured. By working with the environmental departments of the local government, you may also be able to circumvent this process, as these agencies also have the power to work without permits in emergencies.
- Check Point: You should have contacted the regulatory agencies, and developed a plan to obtain
the necessary permits. As you develop this plan, you may need to adjust your timeline to reflect delays that are imposed by the permitting process. You may need to adapt your plan to account for constraints required in the permitting process.
This information was Reef Ball's Draftguide document.