The International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS) was founded in 1980 and membership has increased rapidly in recent years. The principal objective of the Society is to promote the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge and understanding of coral reefs, both living and fossil.
To achieve its objectives the Society holds annual meetings and co-sponsors other gatherings, prints and distributes the journal Coral Reefs and the newsletter Reef Encounter, and raises funds and receives contributions by way of subscriptions and donations.
View the ISRS Constitution
Coral reefs throughout the world are currently facing significant pressures from global climate change and direct anthropogenic stresses (including overfishing and sedimentation). Managers (industry, government, NGOs etc) are typically making difficult decisions in relation to these issues often without adequate scientific information. Good judgement and objectivity and quality information are badly needed, and in its subject area, the ISRS is in the strongest position internationally to furnish these across the board.
The ISRS represents a unique source of substantial expertise and information about coral reefs, many facets of which relate to issues which bear on a much wider community.
Many of us never imagined experiencing within our lifetimes the demise of individual reefs, massive bleaching events, depleted reef fisheries and the associated ecological, economic and cultural losses. But as many of us have also seen, coral reefs (like coral reef scientists) are resilient, and given the opportunity, can and will recover. During the next four year, I would like to continue the efforts of my predecessors in strengthening ISRS and its contributions to the knowledge base on coral reefs and its application to changing the present downward trajectory to one of recovery. While sometimes a bit challenging, I think coral reef scientists, managers, policy makers and educators are a relatively optimistic bunch, which I suppose is a requirement for getting out of bed in the morning and tackling the challenges each day provides. Opportunities abound to study, learn, research, interpret and apply data that will support sound policy development and its implementation to protect and support coral reef persistence and recovery.
I believe it is important for ISRS to grow and evolve to meet the challenges coral reefs are facing globally, and I am pleased to see several trends in ISRS from the early days. The line between coral reef scientist and manager is no longer distinct or relevant. Many scientists are doing applied management work, and many managers are excellent scientists. Even the definition of coral reef science has changed, from the two disciplines of biology and geology to include the social sciences including economics. I believe this broader view of coral reef researcher is critical to the future of reefs, since many of us recognize we can't really manage coral reefs; corals and associated organisms will do whatever they are genetically programmed to do, yet we can change the human behaviors largely responsible for coral reef decline. This will require not only the inclusion of the social sciences, but becoming better communicators on why coral reefs matter, what we do know, and what we can do to make things better
Robert H. Richmond