[Coral-List] consensus statement

John Hocevar jhocevar at dialb.greenpeace.org
Sat Feb 25 22:31:44 EST 2006


I'm enjoying this discussion.  While it is admittedly frustrating to see 
some of the conversation focusing on semantics rather than the seriousness 
of the threats to coral reefs, it would appear that most, if not all, would 
agree that there is an observable trend of reef decline, and that 
anthropogenic impacts are among the primary causes.  Global Warming and its 
more direct and potentially devastating cousin Acidification would present 
enormous challenges for conservationists even if these burdens were being 
placed on the shoulders of pristine reefs.  Of course, that is hardly the 
case, as erosion, high nutrient run-off, and toxic pollution have already 
taken a toll.  Fishing has done a job on reefs as well, whether by removing 
algal grazers or even by dynamiting or poisoning.

There is no doubt need for exploration of the degree to which the above 
statement is true in different regions, and the degree to which the above 
factors are responsible for past declines or future threats.  For the most 
part, though, it seems that this has been sufficiently well established.  Is 
the general public aware of this situation?  Are policy makers placing 
solutions high enough on their agendas?  Clearly not.

I strongly support Phil Dustan's proposal for production of a consensus 
statement (in this case, probably a sign-on statement) of actions that can 
be taken to conserve coral reefs.  My hope is that this community will not 
shy away from addressing the need to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, 
unsustainable fishing practices, or coastal development.  Human behaviors 
are contributing to reef decline, so policies must be created to guide 
changes in those behaviors.  If those who best understand the problems are 
unwilling to propose these changes, there is little hope that this decline 
can be slowed, much less halted or turned around.

As someone who decided to leave academia for conservation advocacy, I can 
offer to help bring together environmental organizations to broadcast your 
concerns and recommendations to a wider audience.  A coalition of a broad 
spectrum of organizations representing millions of people working to 
communicate a solution-oriented scientific consensus on the coral reef 
crisis would be a strong force for reef conservation.  (This would not occur 
in a vacuum; any successful collaboration of this kind would utilize 
existing networks and build on past statements.)

John Hocevar
Oceans Specialist
Greenpeace USA
Office: 512 454-6140
Cel: 512 577-3868 

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