coral_giac at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 29 13:35:17 EST 1999
This is to thank you all for bringing into the public forum the Vieques
(Puerto Rico) bombing issue. There have been excellent recommendations.
However, there are still two aspects that require additional comments.
First, Arnfried Antonius commented a few days ago that it has been long
known that bombs do not harm coral reefs. This is simply false and the
conclusions of that study can not be used as an excuse to keep the US Navy
bombing our coral reefs and killing Puerto Rican civilians.
The effects of hurricanes and bombs will be different, depending on the
spatial and temporal scales being measured. Hurricanes do harm coral reefs
at larger spatial scales than bombs do, but to my knowledge, no hurricane
has been able to open 25 meter wide, 5 meter deep craters in a coral reef,
such as those present in Vieques and Culebra islands. No hurricane has been
able to crack or pulverize huge coral heads such as those demolished by
bombs in Vieques and Culebra. Furthermore, no hurricane has been able to
cause massive fish kills in a matter of seconds such as bombing does. We
should not try to minimize the physical destruction caused by the massive
cratering of Vieques reefs. So, we should not confuse one thing with the
other, and should not use it as an excuse to protect the US Navy interests.
More recently, Gene Shinn brought back the issue and added the comment that
there were more fish in that area than elsewhere in Puerto Rico, adding that
no wonder why the head of the Vieques fishermen association in the leader of
the movement against the US Navy here.
1. I haven't had the opportunity to see that report, but would like to see
the data to which comparisons were made. My own studies (Ph.D.
Dissertation; and Hernandez-Delgado and Sabat, in press) show that there is
a clear gradient of increasing fish species richness, diversity, abundance,
average size and standing stock biomass as we move across the insular shelf
from environmentally-degraded and over-exploited coral reefs to offshore
remote coral reefs. Vieques' coral reefs are considered remote in relation
to highly degraded coastal areas in the main island of Puerto Rico.
2. Nobody has actualized quantitative information about the status of coral
reef fish communities n Vieques to establish a baseline ata bank, and to
compare the status of fish communities within and outside of target areas.
We have tried to seek a permit for that and did not even recieved an answer.
3. I didn't understand Shinn's comment regarding the fishermen, but
everybody should know that, not only fishermen, but the whole Vieques Island
community, many political, syndical and women organizations, students and
faculty from all univerities, the Catholic Church, as well as many other
local, national and international religious, social, political, grassroots
and environmental organizations support Vieques in their struggle to finish
bombing by the US Navy. Even, most of our politicians support viequenses.
Just to clarify that this is not a matter of fishing or not within target
areas because even target areas have been sporadically fished.
Edwin A. Hernandez-Delgado
University of Puerto Rico
Department of Biology
Coral Reef Research Group
P.O. Box 23360
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Tel. (787) 764-0000, x-4855
Fax (787) 764-2610
e-mail: coral_giac at hotmail.com
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