Edwin Hernandez-Delgado coral_giac at
Mon Nov 29 17:10:59 EST 1999

Dear coral-listers.

The letter attached below was sent as a carbon copy (CC) to me by Dr. Gene 
Shinn. I decided to post it simply because there is still people who claims 
that this is more an emotional issue than a scientific issue.  Certainly, we 
have to deal with both things. But blaming fishermen for all problems in 
Puerto Rican coral reefs outside of Navy's waters is like only being looking 
at the point of the iceberg.

Yes, there are many emotional aspects nvolved in this issue. Fifty eight 
years of bombs pounding in the backyards of nearly 10,000 residents has 
obviously been emotional. A 27% cancer rate has obviously been emotional.  
And Viequenses are very clear, no more bombs!  Please, let's not forget that 
we are dealing, not only with coral and fish, but with people.

Let's discuss possible management alternatives.  But, has anybody ever asked 
the simple question of what are we going to discuss about if there is no 
baseline data about the actual status of coral reefs and reef fisheries 
within target areas? Should we start by that fact?  We have the expertise to 
carry out that type of studies in the University of Puerto Rico, but the 
U.S. and the Puerto Rican government seem to be not interested in that. Any 

Edwin A. Hernandez-Delgado
University of Puerto Rico

From: Gene Shinn <gene at>
To: niebuhr at
CC: coral_giac at
Subject: Vieques
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 14:28:12 -0500

Dear David, Thank you for your calm and collected response to my brief
comment on the Vieques situation. I realize this is a highly complex issue 
and the reef is probably just the tip of the political iceberg. Wish now I 
had stayed out of the fracus. There is certainly more emotion than science 
involved in this issue. You might be interested to know that I established 3 
coral monitoring stations on Culebra after they were impacted by hurricane 
Hugo and have spent a few months on the island. Did get a good sense of 
local feelings and of course almost everyday we heard the bombs over on 
Vieques..The bottom line on our monitoring (have turned the whole project 
over to Ginger Garrison USGS/BRD at St. John VI) was that the reefs (both 
windward, leeward, and a polluted site off the canal that drains the 
village) were recovering rapidly after the Hurricane but then in the late 
1990s diseases set in and corals that had regrown started to die. It is an
interesting problem and unfortunately it is Caribbean-wide. I could go on 
and on but will wait until we learn more about what kills corals in
isolated parts of the Caribbean where the human population is low. Thanks 
again for your calm and informative response. Gene

"If we lose our capacity to be wrong, we are not doing the business of
science" Charles L. Drake
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
Gene Shinn                          | email  eshinn at
USGS Center for Coastal Geology     |
600 4th St. South                   | voice  (727) 803-8747 x3030
St.Petersburg, FL  33701            | fax    (727) 803-2032
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------

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