coral reefs doomed for sure

Mike Risk riskmj at
Fri Oct 5 10:24:05 EDT 2001

(This response doesn't count, as it's on a different topic.)

I must thank Clive for telling us what we all knew before-there are multiple
causes of reef death. My ranking of land-based sources of pollution at the
top of the list is not a personal bias, as some seem to conclude, but has
been forced upon me by the data on hand. But of course there are many
stresses (duh), and the trick will be to prioritise and organise.

Clive: here is some material from the primary literature, of which you may
be unaware (From Risk, Heikoop, Edinger and Erdmann, 2001: The assessment
toolbox. Bull Mar Sci vol. 68):

"...the available evidence on the impacts of marine pollution and
destructive fishing is quite clear: reefs have already suffered worldwide
degradation due to human activities." On the following page is a review of
blast fishing in SE Asia, which I commend to your attention.

It is important to separate chronic from episodic stress on reefs. When I
first proposed "triage" for reefs over 10  years ago, I suggested that
episodic stresses could be overcome by concerted effort. If blast fishing
can be stopped (ways to do this are outlined in my reports for COREMAP) then
the reefs will recover.

"Rates of reef destruction by human activities (direct and indirect) are
much greater than the rates of destruction from global change. Both are
cause for concern, but on different time scales. Reefs in some areas can
recover from the damage done by blast and cyanide fishing-coral recruits can
usually be seen in bomb craters (in relatively clean waters) that are a few
months old." And more on the same vein, the point being that the reefs of
Tukang Besi will recover if and when blast fishing shuts down, but the reefs
of Jakarta will not, or at least not until tectonics welds that accretionary
wedge to the plate. Same story everywhere.

It's all there, Clive, in the primary literature. Should you wish to know
more about the relative impacts of blast fishing, industrial development,
sediments, sewage etc. in Asia, there are several excellent publications I
would be glad to send you.

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