[Coral-List] New (old) way to murder a coral reef
davidjevans1818 at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 18 17:47:19 EDT 2015
Richard Dunne's web link is an excellent source of info on a place that has a very limited and controlled level of information. This may be another good source: Chagos Imagery Archive http://chagosdb.blogspot.com/It's just an accumulation of Chagos related images as the title implies. (archived as of 2011)But there are aerials and maps that may give an idea of the scope of landfill projects since the 1970's.just navigate through "Maps & Aerials" and navigate down (through a very long page of images).I found two that make a good comparison. One from 1971 as it is labeled and then another maritime chart more current (maybe the 90's?). It's obvious from these how much has been filled in. Also, all the landfill material came from mining the shoreward reef flats.The archive has images of some of this process: Navigate through "Military" and then "Constructing" (does not seem to be in any chronological order, so just scroll down through images).Non-analytically, but maybe still useful, the archive has fishing activity photos through time at DG and some by yachties in the upper islands. (navigate "Military" then "Fishing")
It may be somewhat enlightening in an otherwise dark hole of information.
As for commenting - I do think John does make a valid point. Diego Garcia should not be put up on the most wanted poster of bad reef care examples, (or at least it shouldn't be up there by itself). Diego Garcia definitely shouldn't take the pressure off what China is doing (and I don't think that was Richard's intent).
It also shouldn't take the pressure off doing the right thing (by the coral reef habitat) at Diego Garcia. I think the point is that we tend to hold ourselves to a highers standard usually and if we want to use that higher standard to help apply pressure, then we should at least know what skeletons are in our own closet. So, we're all human and have made mistakes. But if we are aghast at China's 'Great Wall of Sand' at the Spratly's (as we should be), then we should also have a tug of concern over Diego Garcia. And while we can gawk at China and have indirect effect on their activities (hopefully they have a concerned science community as well we can interact with), we can actually have a more direct effect on our own governments (US and UK). So I think that was the point that I took away from making the comparison between DG and Spratly's. This is not industry doing stuff to the reefs with or without tacit consent of various world governments. This is our actual government itself doing this to the reef habitats of Chagos.
While the level of activity at Diego Garcia does not match what's going on in the Spratly's, it is not negligible either.
I don't know how much play this got, but it turns out that ships had been polluting the lagoon of Diego Garcia for over thirty years right under the noses of those meant to be looking out for that kind of thing. Something like that must certainly put the severe bleaching effects in the lagoon into a new light. I'm not an expert on this topic, but can ships' waste and elevated water temperatures be a good thing when combined during a bleaching event? I do know I saw plenty of dead and dying seagrass beds too along the lagoons margin adjacent to the anchorage. It's certainly curious if not significant of something specific.
I most of all agree (and I think we all do) with John on his closing statement: "There needs to be transparency in all cases of reef damage, most of which probably violate the terms of multiple international environmental conventions."
All my best,
David J. Evans
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:45:29 -0400
From: John McManus <jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] New (old) way to murder a coral reef
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
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I think it is safe to say that most of the more than 100 nations with
control over coral reefs have done substantial damage to those reefs in that
past. Thus, most of the people on this list live in 'glass houses'. That
should not inhibit our efforts to bring those problems to light and to seek
We really have to keep the issues in each area distinct. I see no benefit in
weighing one form of damage in one area to another form of damage in
I don't have at hand any estimations of damage by type done at Diego Garcia,
but those should certainly be brought forward. Presumably there are reports
from people involved in surveys there. If any of those are open to the
public, it would be very helpful to know of them.
With regard to the Spratly Island reefs, I am hopeful that someone will be
more successful than I have been in obtaining funds to monitor the situation
quantitatively via satellite imagery. From the limited information currently
available at http://amti.csis.org/, it is clear that the new artificial
islands will obliterate several square kilometers (several millions of
square meters) of lagoon and reef flat ecosystems, and that the combination
of spillage damage from sand being dredged up and that being lost to erosion
from the islands will multiply that impact several times and extend it to
reef crests and slopes. This raises the concern that such damage will both
negatively impact the local and regional fishery resources which are
currently among the priority issues in the disputes, as well as reduce the
likelihood that the atolls will be able to keep up with rising sea level
over the next century. Of course, if these atolls fall below sea level to
the point that the reef crests no longer break waves, a period of more
massive die-offs associated with the large volumes of eroded sand will
likely be followed by a long recovery with far less disturbance from human
beings -- who will have little left on which to build. Outside of waiting a
century or so for that to happen, many of us see the best solution to rest
in a Spratly Island Peace Park. This would be based on a renewable treaty
specifying a freeze on claims and claimant activities, and a program of
international cooperation in environmental management.
There needs to be transparency in all cases of reef damage, most of which
probably violate the terms of multiple international environmental
John W. McManus, PhD
Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
Professor, Marine Biology and Ecology
Coral Reef Ecology and Management Lab (CREM Lab)
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)
University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, 33149
jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu????? http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu/
"If you lose a diamond ring in the bedroom, don't look for it in the living
room just because the light there is better".
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Richard Dunne
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2015 6:42 AM
To: Coral List
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] New (old) way to murder a coral reef
Phil Dustan refers to the Spratly Islands development by the Chinese as
being "in violation of international law" and appears to contrast it with
the UK/US development of military facilities on Diego Garcia. He also claims
that the Chinese are taking destruction to a "new and higher level ".
I fail to see the distinction. The Chagos are subject to a claim to
sovereignty by UK and Mauritius. The Spratly Islands are also subject to
multiple claims to sovereignty by China, Vietnam, Philippines etc. Why
should Chinese actions in the Spratlys be any more a violation of
international law than the UK/US actions in Chagos?
The political situation in the Spratlys has also been tense for as long as I
have known about it (since the 1980s).
As to the "destruction", is he aware of the levels of 'development' on Diego
Garcia and has he compared this to the current actions by the Chinese?
Magnus is quite right to say "people in glass houses"
Richard P Dunne
On 11/04/2015 16:51, Magnus Johnson wrote:
> I absolutely agree - The situation with Mauritius is quite tense. The US
should leave Diego Garcia now unless the Chagossians choose to keep them
there. The UK should transport Chagossians back to their homeland and pay
them significant compensation. The Chagossians should determine the
conservation of their waters. The world should support them and the
sustained conservation of Chagos and surrounding waters on a legitimate
> Coral reef conservation cannot be sustainable in a political, moral and
legal vacuum. We cannot pretend to hold the moral high ground and encourage
or demand better behaviour when our behaviours and inabilities to conserve
our own back yards are and have been at times is just as bad as that of
> "How is it that supposed experts and "guardians of nature" come here after
having failed to conserve trees and wildlife in their places of origin?"
> (Maasai community leader; from Dowie 2011, Conservation Refugees)
> From: Phil Dustan [dustanp at cofc.edu]
> Sent: 10 April 2015 15:23
> To: Magnus Johnson
> Cc: Coral List
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] New (old) way to murder a coral reef
> So Just because a bunch of reefs have been murdered by military powers
over time there is no reason to take the destruction to new and higher
levels on purpose, especially when it is in violation of international law
and aggravates an already tense political problem
> On Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 12:29 PM, Magnus Johnson
<m.johnson at hull.ac.uk<mailto:m.johnson at hull.ac.uk>> wrote:
> People in glass houses . . . .
> (UK & US: disputed territory, damage to reefs and wildlife, unlicensed
> fishing, riding roughshod over international conventions)
> From: Phil Dustan [dustanp at cofc.edu<mailto:dustanp at cofc.edu>]
> Sent: 09 April 2015 10:44
> To: Coral List
> Subject: [Coral-List] New way to murder a coral reef
> Greetings Listers,
> While we ponder the ways of the diving industry the Chinese have
> taken reef destruction to another dimension in the South China Sea:
> Phillip Dustan
> Department of Biology
> College of Charleston
> Charleston SC 20401
> Charleston SC
> 843 953 8086<tel:843%20953%208086> (voice)
> 843-224-3321<tel:843-224-3321> (m)
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