[Coral-List] Of Artificial Reefs, Corporate Bodies & Reef

Sebastian Ferse sferse at aol.com
Wed Sep 16 15:46:01 EDT 2009

Dear Bart!


The idea of having large companies such as Panasonic going into reef
restoration as part of their corporate social responsibility to me seems
controversial, as I see the danger that it is being used to promote a green
image of the company (that’s the whole idea) and thus is being widely
advertised, most likely without sufficient accompanying information, which
might foster the idea of reefs being easily handled and ‘reforested’
ecosystems to the public mind.

Although I agree that in cases where companies are responsible for reef
degradation (even remotely), they should consider doing something to reverse
or reduce their impact, reef restoration is a complex issue that is not
easily tackled. I believe that in many cases, education and better
management will have a more profound impact on reef health than ‘sexy’ feats
like coral transplantation. There certainly are cases where active
restoration is warranted and needed, but the science involved is usually a
lot more complex than what companies can aim for in CSR projects – some
exceptions are possible, of course.

While the objectives described in the article (‘encourage and stimulate the
diverse marine life and corals to form and regenerate; assist in rebuilding
the ocean’s complex ecological system; expose and educate the public on the
effects of coral depletion and its negative impact on the oceans; keep track
of and examine previously planted artificial reefs; carry out ocean cleaning
and other environmental activities’) are laudable enough, their choice of
material for artificial reefs (PVC tubes) to me seems suboptimal at best.
Benthic organisms may grow on it, but I doubt that it is robust and heavy
enough to withstand strong currents, swells, or storms. If that’s the case,
Panasonic may be repeating the tire-reef disaster off the Florida coast (or
at least they may not succeed in providing long-lasting structures). Several
other established methods, such as BioRocks, EcoReefs or ReefBalls, probably
are more suitable for their goals.

All the technicalities aside, there remains the issue of what kind of image
is being created if big companies go into reef restoration as a sort of PR

Coral reefs are delicate and complex systems, and a thorough and
context-relevant understanding is needed to manage them. I am afraid that
this aspect may get lost if big companies discover them as a playground for
their CSR programs.


Best regards,



Dr. Sebastian Ferse

Leibniz Zentrum für Marine Tropenökologie (ZMT)
Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology
Fahrenheitstrasse 6
D-28359 Bremen
Phone: +49-421-238 00 28
Fax: +49-421-238 00 30
Mobile: +49-1577-237 9259
e-mail: sebastian.ferse at zmt-bremen.de



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