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F4BG Monthly Luncheon September 2023 - Ryan Donnelly Presents on "The role of reef stewardship in the future of Great Barrier Reef tourism”

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This month we are fortunate to welcome back Ryan Donnelly, CEO of Reef Restoration Foundation Ltd. A lot has happened since March 2021 which Ryan last presented to the Forum.

Enjoy Ryan's presentation in a relaxed and informal environment, whilst enjoying an exquisite local menu & service, plus the bonus of sharing conversation with like-minded businesspeople.

Ryan Donnelly describes his career as ‘careering from one thing to the next’.

After almost a decade of wandering around the world, Ryan returned to Australia and completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Coastal Management) degree with Honours then headed over to the Solomon Islands to coordinate a development project aimed at managing a fishery and international trade in live reef fish, from which he completed a Master of Science degree.

He then participated in a voyage in the remote Raja Ampat region of Indonesia with US NGO, The Nature Conservancy, in what was a precursor to the multilateral Coral Triangle Initiative, which aimed to sustain extraordinary marine and coastal resources by addressing crucial issues such as food security, climate change and marine biodiversity.

He moved to Cairns early in 2004 to take on the challenging role of CEO of the seafood and marine industry cluster under the umbrella of the now-defunct Cairns Region Economic Development Corporation at a time when the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was rezoned, and the fishing industry was turned on its head. He also performed a concurrent role for the engineering and manufacturing industry cluster.

Reconnecting with former colleagues from Solomon Islands, Ryan joined local family business and industry leaders in the supply of marine life for display in aquaria, Cairns Marine. Here, he became a key driver behind industry body, Pro-vision Reef, linking coral fishery practices to scientific assessments to improve environmental performance and to secure export accreditation.

He also spent a couple of years with the team at Reef and Rainforest Research Centre responsible for the Tropical Ecosystems Hub of the National Environmental Research Program with a specific focus on issues affecting the Great Barrier Reef.

Along the way, Ryan has been part of the small team of marine industry practitioners that developed the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College from the original concept; became vice president of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce and the inaugural chairman of Wet Tropics Waterways as part of the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan for the Great Barrier Reef. He retains positions as Deputy Chair of Terrain Natural Resource Management and Chair of the Cairns Local Marine Advisory Committee.

In mid 2020, Ryan took on the role of CEO of Reef Restoration Foundation. He came into the role when most of the heavy lifting had been done for this start-up social enterprise. He acknowledges the blood, sweat and tears of the founders but relishes the opportunity presented to him to craft the future for the organisation, the work it performs and the ongoing collaboration with marine tourism that must strengthen further into the future.

Once again, this will be a most informative, not-to-be-missed lunch providing you with all the information on opportunities to best position your business and some great networking and we look forward to seeing you there.

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