Could bombing benefit Vieques reefs?

Doug Fenner d.fenner at
Wed Nov 17 09:17:52 EST 1999

Regarding the petitions to stop the bombing of Vieques Is, Puerto Rico,

   I seem to remember work some years ago reported in one of the
International Coral Reef Symposiums that looked at the reefs of Vieques,
and found that they were in better shape than the reefs of Puerto Rico.
The bombing had done surprisingly little damage to the reefs, and it had
kept people out of the area, so they hadn't destroyed the reefs as on
Puerto Rico.

   In Hawaii it has been said that the military are unwittingly one of the
islands' biggest conservation agencies, since the islands are dotted with
disused military bases where people cannot buy land and build resorts,

   Maybe it would be ideal to get the Navy to stop bombing and clean up
everything, but leave the live ordinance lying around to keep people out.
If you let people populate the Vieques as dense as the rest of Puerto Rico
and don't have very effective controls of sediment runoff, fishing, etc,
the reefs may be worse off than with the military there.  What will
replace the military?  -Doug

Douglas Fenner, Ph.D.
Coral Biodiversity/Taxonomist
Australian Institute of Marine Science
PMB No 3
Townsville MC
Queensland 4810
phone 07 4753 4334
e-mail: d.fenner at

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