Exotic coral cultured in the Caribbean
Dvogel at rossmed.edu.dm
Tue Jun 26 14:33:36 EDT 2001
I am not a coral researcher. I address this list on the advice of a member
of the list. I am a physiologist living on the island of Dominica (not to be
confused for the Dominican Republic). I am concerned about a business that
has been established on Dominica and seek advice about the hazards it
presents, if any, and what actions might be appropriate.
Advanced Marine Technologies describes itself as culturing coral primarily
for use in restoration of damaged reefs and secondarily for sale to aquarium
owners. They are, at least, successfully maintaining numerous species of
coral obtained both from local reefs and from the South Pacific. The corals
obtained from the South Pacific, and their possible pathogens, are the
source of my concern.
The design of the facility is as follows: Seawater from Prince Rupert's Bay
is circulated through a large tank - possibly in the neighborhood of 50,000
liters. This tank contains mixed local corals. From this tank water is
circulated to, perhaps, 15 or 20 small tanks each of which contains an
single species of coral. Some of these species are from the South Pacific.
Water being returned to the large tank is treated with ultraviolet light.
There is no provision for removing particulates, which might be resistant to
UV treatment, from the return flow. The water in the tanks appeared clear,
and I was assured that the flow through the tanks is stopped when the tanks
are cleaned in order to prevent return of particulates. I have some doubts
about what happens when flow is restored.
Effluent from the large tank is returned to Prince Rupert's Bay. In
principle, the effluent is treated with ozone. However, on a recent day, the
ozone treatment was down and the plant was still returning water to the
With the exception of Haiti, Dominica is the poorest country in the Western
Hemisphere, and I do not wish to make myself unwelcome in this lovely,
friendly place by causing unwarranted trouble for even a small industry.
(The banana economy of these 70,000 people has been destroy by a U.S.
decision to force the British Commonwealth to stop subsidizing Dominican
bananas.) However, I feel obliged to inquire as to the risks Advanced Marine
Technologies presents, and for example, what international treaties might be
relevant to its operation. For some time prior to finding the ozone
treatment down, I have had concerns about the level of training of the
personnel who operate the plant, and about the ability of the government of
this small place to regulate such a facility.
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David Vogel Home: 1-767-445-3598
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Portsmouth E-mail: dvogel at rossmed.edu.dm
Commonwealth of Dominica
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