[Coral-List] Reef destruction on Majuro

Todd Barber reefball at reefball.com
Wed Feb 22 11:43:41 EST 2012

Dear Nadiera,

First and foremost I applaud you for speaking out on behalf of those
involved more deeply with this matter.  It is always helpful to know
all sides of an issue.

I am deeply saddened that whatever loopholes exist, issues of
protecting a living coral reef from being destroyed without mitigation
or rescue attempts would become totally "political".  I can't imagine
it's the job nor is it likely there are many truly knowledgeable
people that understand the importance of coral reefs staffing an
embassy job (I hope I am wrong).

And I fully understand government "red tape" where endless meetings
produce lots of meaningful activity without logical conclusion.  It's
part of our bureaucracy for better or worse.

But I also believe strongly that individuals have a basic right to
publicly declare atrocities....so to blame Dean....who is only a
simple scientist acting alone on what he sees as a local atrocity also
is heavy handed.  He may not have all of the facts....in fact, because
many government agency meetings are "closed" as you point out it's
hard sometimes for the public to have all the facts.

For all of those meetings, it's amazing to me that nobody has simply
asked the question about doing this job property as it is done
everywhere else in the world...including non-US countries.  Reefs are
routinely moved, genetically rescued or mitigated without major
expenses by a variety of scientific institutions, non-profit
organizations, private contractors and government agencies....quite
often at very little extra expense.  Forget any jurisdiction or law
requiring it...why not just do it?  I am quite sure that somebody like
Dean with a minimum amount of financial and logistical support could
find a way to at least rescue the most valuable animals on the reef.
Of course, not destroying the reef at all would always be preferable
but when "politics" or even real economic or other issue make the
destruction of a coral reef necessary that should not relieve the
burden to at least do the right thing and to minimize the loss.

I do appreciate everything every agency has tried to make this a
better outcome...even if they could not deliver that solution....but
in the end let's all work not to politicize living animals that
provide the world's oceans with rich habitats and invaluable human
assets....let's just work harder to do every project just a little
better than the last one (and certainly we should not regress as seems
to be the case here).


Todd R Barber
Chairman, Reef Ball Foundation

941-484-7482 (Direct)
941-720-7549 (Cell & Goggle Voice)
toddbarber Skype

www,reefball.org (Reef Ball Foundation)
www.artificialreefs.org (Designed Artificial Reefs)
www.reefbeach.com (Reefs for Beach Erosion)
www.eternalreefs.com (Memorial Reefs)
www.reefball.com (Reef Ball Foundation)

On Tue, Feb 21, 2012 at 4:09 PM, Nadiera Sukhraj <sukhraj at hawaii.edu> wrote:
> Dear Listers-
> I have been quietly reading the discussion on this topic for the past few
> months and have become increasingly frustrated with the amount of
> misinformation being reported and the anger being directed to the wrong
> people/agencies.  That includes some of the comments that were circulated
> by Dean Jacobson who had no participation in the ongoing fight being waged
> by the U.S. federal agencies that work to protect these resources.  And
> most of that effort has fallen on deaf ears, including attorneys, the FAA,
> RMI counterparts, etc. I am not replying from my work e-mail but will say
> that I work for a federal natural resource agency with a field office in
> Honolulu that has been heavily involved in this mess. And I can't rehash
> all that has been done because it would be a very long list of letters,
> meetings, conference calls, etc.  I can say that none of the agencies (EPA,
> USFWS, NOAA, etc.) have been ignoring this huge problem, as has been
> claimed by many, but need to point out that Majuro is a unique situation.
> It does not fall under the 1995 UES (Environmental Standards and Procedures
> for United States Army Kwajalein Atoll Activities in the Republic of the
> Marshall Islands) that are laid out for the military islets in Kwajalein
> Atoll.  And that is where most of the loopholes that would allow this
> activity have originated.
> We do not agree with using U.S. taxpayer dollars to pave over reefs,
> destabilize shorelines, contaminate water supplies, reduce food sources,
> etc.  I do not understand how people on here can think that U.S. agencies
> would put this in their blind spot and pretend that it was not happening.
> Unfortunately, there will be no lawsuits.  All communication is now being
> handled by the State Department and the U.S. Embassy.  We are no longer
> allowed to contact the foreign entities directly.
> When asked to give technical assistance to the RMI in regard to the
> environmental assessment, we did, and the head of the RMI EPA was
> terminated.
> Yes, the USCRTF will be discussing this again this week in closed meetings
> and hopefully can gain some more support from CEQ.  Representatives from
> the RMI will be there, but attacking them will not solve anything.
> Please back up your comments with some facts before sharing them.  The
> confusion is not helping the situation.
> If you really want to complain- direct your comments to the U.S. Embassy in
> the RMI.  It's all political now.
> On Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 4:14 AM, David Wheeler
> <davidwheeler at doctors.net.uk>wrote:
>> Dear Listers
>> I have been following Dean Jacobson's postings on the imminent
>> destruction of an inshore reef to provide rubble.  As scientists do not
>> seem to be able to make much impact maybe we could try to atttack the
>> problem through the tourism pocket.  The three ladies listed below are
>> in the Marshall Islands Visitors Authority.   Here is the email I sent
>> to them (and to Ron).
>> > General Manager
>> >
>> >       Brenda Alik Maddison
>> >
>> >       gm at visitmarshallislands.com
>> >
>> > Marketing & Research Officer
>> >
>> >       Emelyn Simon
>> >
>> >       tourism at ntamar.net
>> >
>> > Information Officer
>> >
>> >       Deardre Neko Ned
>> >
>> >       info at visitmarshallislands.com
>> >
>> > Dear Ladies
>> >
>> > I am a diver prepared to travel long distances from the UK in search of
>> > unspoiled coral reefs.  For instance, I recently went to Raja Ampat in
>> > Irian Jaya (a two day journey) to dive the reefs there.  I am
>> > considering mounting an expedition to the Marshall Islands and am
>> > astonished to hear that your government is minded to allow the
>> > destruction of a high quality reef in order to provide rubble to extend
>> > the runway safety area.   This is akin to bulldozing the Alele Museum
>> > with all its exhibits for building rubble.
>> >
>> > I have it on good authority that unlimited material may be dredged from
>> > the reef without significant environmental damage whereas dredging the
>> > reef will destroy for ever an important tourist site.  After a week's
>> > diving it is necessary to take 24 hours off before flying and a
>> > snorkelling a beautiful shallow reef would be an excellent way of
>> > passing the time.  Moreover, I understand that the reef is an important
>> > fish spawning area and destroying it will have a significant effect on
>> > local fisheries.   There are many restaurants in Majuro but from where
>> > will they obtain fish to feed to the tourists?
>> >
>> > I am even more astounded to hear that this destruction is being funded
>> > by the US Government in defiance of a ruling from the FAA that it  is
>> > not a sustainable action.
>> >
>> > It seems to me extraordinarily short sighted to destroy a fine reef for
>> > short term gain just as the Marshall Islands are becoming available for
>> > dive tourism.   Whereas one is pleased to hear of the recent declaration
>> > of ban on shark fishing throughout the Marshall Islands (divers love
>> > sharks) the destruction of a reef makes one wonder just how dedicated
>> > the Government is to conservation.   The wanton destruction of a reef
>> > sends out a very bad message indeed to the diving community.
>> >
>> > Yours sincerely
>> David Wheeler
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