Developing Ocean Literacy and Citizen Scientists – IMBeR at REEF Fest 2023

The Reef Environmental Education Foundation is the world’s largest marine citizen science organisation ( The REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project marked its 30th anniversary this year, and almost 300,000 underwater surveys have been performed by volunteer citizen scientists. These surveys constitute the largest open-access marine life sightings database in the world which is used by research and management communities alike. In late October, Dr John Claydon, Executive Director of the IMBeR International Project Office delivered an ‘Ocean Seminar’ at REEF Fest 2023, REEF’s annual celebration of marine environmental education, citizen science, and ocean conservation, held in Key Largo, Florida, USA. John’s keynote presentation was entitled ‘Seafood Fraud and the Sustainable Management of Groupers’. The talk covered the fascinating reproductive ecology of groupers, the plight of these fishes under excessive levels of exploitation and a collectively high risk of extinction. The talk also detailed the high incidence of seafood fraud in the global trade of groupers and how this fraud can mask other crimes and social justice issues. John also described potential solutions and success stories. Tailored to the general public, John’s talk drew from his research as well as his experiences leading a national environmental enforcement agency.

‘IMBeR recognises that as we strive for ocean sustainability, the science that we produce needs to be accessible to society at large, and that is why organisations like REEF are so important. Through environmental education, and with a huge number of citizen scientists, REEF is helping to build ocean literacy which is a crucial part of the ocean sustainability equation. That’s one of the reasons why I am so happy to be invited to give this talk.’ – John Claydon. Watch John’s talk here.