[Coral-List] environmental /ecological disadvantages of marine reserves

John Meaker kr4ah at empery.sssgroup.net
Thu Aug 14 16:39:01 EDT 2003

On Wed, 13 Aug 2003, Subhashni Appana wrote:

> I have heaps of publications which talks about the advantages of marine
> reserves; however I feel there would be environmental/ecological
> disadvantages to it as well.

> Could you please help me find a few.

	I doubt that there are many people in this group who would believe 
that a well implemented marine reserve program would have much ecological 
or environmental downside.  However a poorly appropriated or poorly 
managed marine reserve program might have issues.  

	In the poor management category, a marine reserve might attract
many divers into an area that they might not otherwise visit.  If these
divers aren't educted in the leave no trace philosophy, they might
actually harm an area more than other protections would benefit it.  I
personally believe that it is the individual divers who need education and
that merely having divers go with a "certified" tour operator does not
solve the issue.  I have been in many areas where operators had to
accompany *all* divers and some of these areas were total wrecks.  Other
areas where diver are allowed to dive on their own after an ecology class
fared much better.

	However, implementing such a program is difficult and requires a 
lot of cooperation from the public, dive operators and the divers.  Also 
this is just one example of poor management practices that may negatively 
impact a reef ecosystem.  There are many other questionable management 
practices that can negatively impact an ecosystem.

	An example of poor appropriation of marine reserve resources might
include an administration that says that X percentage of their offshore
areas must be protected, but then bows to pressure from commercial
interests in allocating those reserves.  In the end, the final plan
includes protected "reef areas" are way too small to be effective and the
largest part of the "protected zones"  are ocean areas that had recieved
little threat from human impact.  However the people beileve that an
effective plan is in place because they are told that the government has
designated enough protection and further conservation efforts are


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