Another viewpoint on Exotic corals cultured in the Caribbean

McCarty and Peters McCarty_and_Peters at
Fri Jun 29 20:20:24 EDT 2001

Dear Fabrice,

As you have seen on the Coral-list, the major concern is introduction of
Indo-Pacific species to Caribbean waters.  Nonindigenous species
introductions have played an important, and adverse, role in many
ecosystems.  For example, San Francisco Bay now appears to have at least
50% of its species originating from other areas due to ship traffic.  The
damage done by zebra mussels in the Great Lakes and now tributaries is
well-documented.  Predation, competition, and other interactions have led
to the demise of many populations of native species when nonindigenous
species become adapted to their new environment (a large body of literature
exists on this topic).  From a disease perspective, with these "macro"
organisms come associated microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria,
protozoa, algae, fungi, and metazoans living within the tissues or on their
surfaces (and not necessarily apparent as the host animal or plant might
not show any signs of disease), or in the water accompanying the shipments.
 If these organisms are released into Caribbean waters and survive, there
is a grave danger that local fauna will not be able to defend themselves
from infection because they have never encountered these parasites and
pathogens before, and disease or death can result.  If these microorganisms
proliferate, they might be carried on water currents throughout the
Caribbean region.  Other cases of introductions of pathogens from
aquaculture facilities to local populations have been documented in, for
example, oysters, shrimp, and fish.  This is why these facilities have had
to reduce or eliminate their discharges directly to certain waterbodies and
why shipments of seed or brood stock must be quarantined or undergo
documented inspections and searches for specific pathogens before
interstate transport is permitted (in the United States and elsewhere). 
Many people are involved in the U.S. and regulations and programs have been
developed to protect indigenous organisms.  Thus, the concerns expressed on
the list are valid and require questioning these operations in Dominica. 

Esther Peters
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