[Coral-List] Reef Remnancy not resiliency

Jeffrey Low cat64fish at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 21 20:49:22 EST 2006

Hi everyone,
  Certainly an interesting discussion on the fate of the Florida reefs. Not being from the US, and never having had the opportunity to visit the Florida Keys, I am unable to fully appreciate the extent fo the damage that has been done to that rich ecosystem.
  Mike, as usual, you have cut through the bs and succinctly stated the problem in the Florida Keys. I suspect similar situations occur wolrdwide, where reef systems are in decline (for example, I've heard from fishermen how their reefs have been destroyed by blast fishing caused by fishermen from the "other" island).
  While sitting on the fence, and agreeing that there needs to be more science directed at the reef ecosystem, the impacts would seem to far, far outweigh the need for more exacting science. Conservation, and perhaps even the more exacting word, preservation, is needed, if reefs are to survive the human onslaught.
  Someone mentioned (I am not sure of it is on this list or somewhere else) that it was a good ting that there are many coral species and only one human. Be that as it may, that one species has the capacity to totally destroy the diversity that exists today.
  Perhaps, if we took a longer view (in evolutionary terms), this extinction would not matter .... yes, the ecosystems that we know today might be gone, but other ecosystems and processes will replace them. Much good that would do for us, who have to see these changes taking place.
  MPAs managed in isolation, was something else that was brought up in this discussion. While it is undeniable (at least to me) that MPAs do help in the conservation of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems, the term MPA itself is an "isolationist" word, as it implies some sought of boundary. "Enlightened management plans" that look at the totality of the marine system, that will conserve and sustain our marine resources, understanding that it is inter-connected and intricately linked system, are what is needed.
  I suspect that part of the reason that scientists treat reef systems in isolation is that if they did not, then there would be no "scientific" papers (as we know them) in existence. The momentum of publishing, or doing publishable research, is probably what is limiting the science from expanding beyond its narrow confines. Reef managers on the other hand, must not only be biologists, but people managers, ecosystem managers, fund managers, and sometimes, visionaries, all rolled into one. Good luck finding such people in great enough quantity to "manage" even the existing MPAs.
  To round up, I agree with Mike that "people power" may be the way to go to get the necessary protection for our marine resources. "People cannot love, what they do not know", or so I've been told. While I cannot "love" the Florida Keys, I do love the coral reefs in my own backyard, and sometimes the wrangling that goes on between scientists, conservationists and politicians, while the reefs are slowly but surely being degraded, is more than I can bear.
  Holding out for coral reefs the world over

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