The Trouble with our Ocean

FSP Fiji - Suva Office fspsuva at
Mon Nov 20 18:34:30 EST 2000

>  "From an economic standpoint, I'm not sure that a
>live reef is worth much more than a dead one.

A reality check from the Pacific Islands:

The fact is that most reefs of the planet never experience tourism of any 
sort, nor do they have clouds of green water or mud covering them.  What 
most reefs do experience is subsistence fishing pressure, and a fair number 
of reefs also experience commercial fishing by local people with boats and 
access to local markets.

In my opinion, the greatest economic contribution of reefs to the planet is 
that reefs feed and provide for families... reefs keep societies alive. 
 From this perspective, overfishing/destructive fishing by reef-dependent 
communities is a far greater immediate threat to the health of reefs than 
any other factor.  If fishing communities are the primary threat to coral 
reefs, and as these communities own/control most (70%+?) of the reefs on 
this planet, shouldn't more effort be made to empower this group that hold 
the future of reefs in their hands?

The emphasis on climate change, bleaching, and the like tend to steal the 
show.  These issues may attract funding and interset the scientific 
community, but they are much less practical than focusing on empowering 
communities to manage their own resources.  Could saving reefs be more of a 
exercise in cultural understanding and respect for the intellegence of 
rural fishing communities than a research driven one?

>From where I live and work, it appears that a lack of global vision and 
educational prejudice on the part of the scientific community are as much a 
problem as any physical threat.

Austin Bowden-Kerby
Coral Gardens Initiative
Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific

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