[Coral-List] Re: fish bombing and tsunami effects

Michael Risk riskmj at univmail.cis.mcmaster.ca
Fri Jan 14 12:47:40 EST 2005

Thanks, Helen.

Of course extent of damage is a prime factor, especially when one
considers that these are hardly pristine coastlines-the ideal
environmental conditions I outlined will almost never be met.

Beginning in the late 80's, blast-fishing boats began visiting Sumatra.
Local lore has it that most came from Taiwan and the Philippines, but
there was Indonesian activity also. They bombed using echo-sounder
traces: as long as the traces were flat, well, that's where Budi was
last week. Soon as they saw reticulation, well, that was new reef, so
they began bombing. Took them about 5 years to do most of Sumatra. Then
one gets the mobile-rubble spat-exclusion phenom Helen mentions, which
has been so well documented from Maldives.

Sri Lanka draglined many of their reefs to get coral to make the lime
to build the hotels in which to put the tourists that come to see the

Tsunami flooding in Maldives was most severe in "reclaimed" areas.

In East Africa, a one-armed fisherman is one with bombing experience.

India has cut most of her mangroves in the past 20 years.

And on and on. We remove the coastal breakwaters at our peril. If
economics drives the exploitation, then alternative means of income
need to be investigated.

Rate of recovery of these reefs will be controlled almost exclusively
by the degree of land-based threats. Any rehabilitation efforts need to
begin with proper coastal plans.


On Thu, 13 Jan 2005 07:26:46 -0500
 "Helen E. Fox" <hfox at hawaii.edu> wrote:
> I would add "extent of the damage" to Mike Risk's list of factors
> that will influence coral recovery from the tsunami.  I studied reef
> recovery from bomb fishing in Komodo National Park and N Sulawesi
> (working with Mark and Arnaz), and found that single craters in an
> intact reef matrix are indeed recovering 5 years post-blast.
>  However, chronic blasting before the parks were effectively managed
> has left large rubble fields (and plenty of "non-smart" bombing still
> occurs in other places).  No framework is left nearby, and the vast
> quantities of broken rubble act as "killing fields" for juvenile
> corals--abrading or burying recruits.  There has been no improvement
> in numbers or area covered by hard corals over 7 years, despite good
> water quality and plenty of recruitment.  Some rehabilitation
> treatments I installed have new Acropora growth comparable to that
> reported by Tomascik (more details on that coming out in the Feb05
> Conservation Biology).  I imagine the damage from the tsunami varies
> greatly in scale in different locations.
> Helen Fox
> Helen E. Fox, Ph.D.
> Marine Conservation Biologist
> Conservation Science Program, World Wildlife Fund-US
> 1250 24th St NW
> Washington DC 20037-1193 USA
> Tel: 202-778-9793
> Fax: 202-293-9211
> Email: Helen.Fox at wwfus.org 
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