The Virgin Islands Mangrove Research and Conservation Coalition (VIMRCC) has been selected as the Coastal Zone Organization of the Year by the Coastal Zone Management Program of the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources. VIMRCC is also the recipient of the 2008 VI Coastal Zone Management Program Awareness Award, which honors and recognizes individuals or organizations for their dedication and contribution to helping manage, enhance and protect the territory's coastal and ocean resources.
The coalition originated from a project awarded to Dr. Nasseer Idrisi at UVI's Center for Marine and Environmental Studies in 2006. The grant award was from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) through the Gulf of Mexico Foundation for the purpose of mangrove research, community outreach and environmental awareness. VIMRCC has been supported with active involvement from the St. Thomas Fishermen's Association, the Environmental Association of St. Thomas-St. John, VI Ecotours and the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park.
VIMRCC conducts coastal cleanups and presentations on subjects such as mangrove ecology and marine debris. Its activities include awarding merit badges to members of Boy Scouts Troup 156, and presentations at local schools, the St. Thomas Agricultural Fair and UVI's Afternoon on the Green.
The coalition collects baseline data on the territory's mangrove habitats, which can be monitored over time and compared with mangroves in other parts of the Caribbean and the world. The newest endeavor of the VIMRCC, in partnership with Virgin Islands Sea Tow, is the removal of derelict vessels in the territory. Since September 2008, more than 30 derelict vessels have been removed from Benner Bay. The VIMRCC project coordinator, UVI graduate student Sophia McKenzie, will receive the awards from DPNR on St. Croix on June 26, 2009, on behalf of the coalition.