[Coral-List] Unsustainable Development

Todd Barber reefball at reefball.com
Thu Mar 16 11:40:51 EST 2006

Hi James,

Thank you for your comments.  We are certainly aware of the impacts to coral 
reefs from a wide range of factors from sedimentation, nutrient run-off, 
heat stress, and other human stress factors.  I doubt there is anyone on 
this list that is not painfully aware of the problems facing all of our 
worlds reef ecosystems.

I want to make a few things perfectly clear.....so that people understand 
where Reef Ball Foundation stands on this project.

1) We are not "assisting" the developer to destroy the reef or playing into 
their hands....I have only suggested that if legal efforts to stop the 
development fail then we (and I hope by WE I mean not just the Foundation 
but all scientists and organizations subscribing to this list)  should at 
least aid the developer to use the best practices and conservation 
techniques to preserve as much as possible.  I personally believe that this 
ethic should be followed by anyone that has developed new scientific 
techniques or methods to aid in the preservation, conservation, 
rehabilitation or heath of reefs.

2) I have NOT proposed Reef Balls for this project.  (In fact, I have not 
investigated the site at all).  Reef Ball Foundation's interest in this 
project at this stage is only to assist in the protection of the natural 
reef and related ecosystems and our involvement came about from reading all 
the comments on the Coral List about this project.  [Honest disclaimer: 
This is not to say that some of our technology might not be applicable to 
the project...for example if the development proceeds there may be a need to 
plant new red mangroves for estuary habitat or to create a genetic coral 
banks for safe keeping of corals that might be impacted, or mitigation for 
damages actually caused, etc.  Doing any type of minimal impact development 
requires a host of technologies to achieve less impact than standard 
developmental practices.]

3) What I have offered to the client is to try to pull together a team of 
independent VOLUNTEER scientists to give them an honest opinion of what 
could be done to minimize the developmental impacts should they be given 
legal permission to develop.  Efforts are already underway to put together 
this team.  Independent means that the scientists should not be linked to 
either side, the developer or the community of opposition.

4) Reef Ball Foundation does not get involved with local 
politics....therefore we have no opinion on the legal issues of this 
project.  It is up to the local people and the Bahamian legal system to 
determine if the developer has a right to develop the island.  I, 
personally, am never in favor of any particular project when negative 
impacts to the reefs are likely.  HOWEVER, I am a practical person and if a 
project is going to proceed anyway I will always offer whatever knowledge or 
assistance I can to help minimize those impacts to the reef.  One can oppose 
development, yet still have a positive influence if the development 
proceeds.  [Note: The Reef Ball Foundation has always had a policy of not 
getting involved in local politics because we do work in so many countries 
and politics can hamper our ability to deliver solutions to local problems. 
Most of our staff and volunteers have personal opinions about local issues 
and as individuals we sometimes express these ideas but not as an 


Todd Barber
Chairman Reef Ball Foundation, Inc.
3305 Edwards Court
Greenville, NC 27858
reefball at reefball.com


Direct: 252-353-9094
mobile: 941-720-7549
Fax 425-963-4119

Personal Space: http://www.myspace/reefball
Group Space http://groups.myspace.com/reefballfoundation
Skype & MSN For Voice or Video Conferences:
Available upon request

Atlanta/Athens Office
890 Hill Street
Athens, GA 30606 USA
(Our headquarters...not where I work see above)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "James M Cervino" <cnidaria at earthlink.net>
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 9:51 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] Unsustainable Development

> Mr Barber and Bourke,
> Your intentions are evident as you are simply playing  into the hands
> of the Developer to obtain this account to place concrete "Balls"
> along the limestone coast where this proposed golf course will go.
> However, if you were to post a note on the coral-list as speaking out
> against this development while wanting to DONATE your "concrete
> balls" to the environmental group for coastal erosion-protection,
> then your intentions would be justified as environmentally
> respectable. Are you aware that your "Balls" will be quickly
> overgrown with Macro-algae once this golf course is implemented ?
> There is an example of an artificial reef that someone placed close
> to shore where mangroves were clear cut.  These structures were
> placed in the sediment within 10-15 feet depth of water and are
> completely smothered with macro-algae which should serve as a model
> for you; that surrounding this island with "concrete balls" will
> simply not protect the living remaining 100-200 year old corals that
> are already stressed.
> At least the environmental group on Guana is pushing to protect the
> remaining living tissue residing on the surfaces of these coral
> skeletons as they seem to understand what "critical levels" of
> nutrients mean in an oligotrophic reef system. All they are trying to
> do is stop this small  island from being over developed with 300
> condo units and a golf course. No sound person would back such a plan
> on an island that is approximately 2-3km in length. (one can walk
> around this island in 30min).
> Any logical scientist will tell you that this development will
> fertilize the reef and increase the abundance of macro algae species
> within this habitat, thereby threatening this already thermally
> stressed coral reef ecosystem. Have your and your scientific advisors
> reviewed this golf course proposal? I doubt it, as you would then be
> aware that they are going to dredge this area as well which will
> further add stress to this reef. Mr. Barber; there are many
> publications out there that show how sediment loading can effect
> coral physiology, here is one such publication that I can forward to
> you (Peters, E. 1984.  A survey of cellular reactions to
> environmental stress and disease in Caribbean scleractinian corals.
> Helgol. Meeresunters. 37: 113-137. Your so called environmentally
> conscious Reef Ball Team may not have an understanding of the
> sensitive cellular mechanisms and physiology of symbiotic reef
> building corals.  If you did you would not be trying to help this
> developer in any way.
> You may not be aware of this as, coral reefs are known to be the most
> nutrient sensitive ecosystems. Coral reefs can become  "eutrophic",
> that is, overgrown by weedy algae, at nutrient levels that are so low
> that they would indicate nutrient starvation in any other ecosystem.
> This golf course will be a point source and will create hazardous
> high levels of nutrients into this coastal zone. Any nutrient
> drainage into this area will cause the reefs to deteriorate further.
> Here are some papers that you can read about reef stress before you
> just stamp your letter of approval onto this project (P. Bell,1992,
> Eutrophication and coral reefs: some examples in the Great Barrier
> Reef lagoon, Water Research, 26: 553-568; B. Lapointe, & M. Clark,
> 1992, Nutrient inputs from the watershed and coastal eutrophication
> in the Florida Keys, Estuaries, 15: 465-476; B. Lapointe, in press,
> Eutrophication thresholds for macroalgal overgrowth of coral reefs,
> in K. Thacker (Ed.) Protecting Jamaica's Coral Reefs: Water quality
> issues).
> Dear Mr. Bob Bourke Environmental Scientist (ex-marine biologist), do
> you call this a sound project?
> You said that: "Concepts of Low Impact Development and active
> management using primarily  groundwater and runoff monitoring
> feedback programs are effective in many locations.
> We say that we have no time to monitor anything!  The Discovery & Co.
> EIA plans are to dredge up a portion of the 1 mile island, dump the
> sediment onto the surrounding reef and add soil fill combined with
> quartz sand for this golf course.  This limestone substrate will act
> as a permeable filter for the nutrients to leach out into the reef
> thereby feeding the invasive species. Here is some information for
> you Mr Bourke regarding levels of nutrients that are critical in a
> living reef system:
> 1.0 micromoles per litre of nitrogen as nitrate and ammonia
> 0.1 micromoles per litre of phosphorous as ortho-phosphate and 
> organophosphate.
> These values are in the molecular concentration units used by
> chemists and oceanographers. In the weight units more often used in
> the wastewater literature these translate into:
> Nitrogen: 0.014 ppm N or 0.040 ppm NO3
> Phosphorous 0.003 ppm P or 0.007 ppm PO4
> I hope that more people will speak out against this type of
> development given the state of the worlds reefs are in today. If we
> cannot convince the US administration to control atmospheric carbon
> dioxide that is responsible for thermal stress in corals at least we
> can help the peoples of Guana protect their reef from a developer
> that cares nothing about the corals and the fish that live within
> this habitat.
> -- 
> **************************************************
> Dr. James M. Cervino, MS, Ph.D.
> Marine Biologist
> Department of Biological & Health Sciences
> Pace University New York NYC
> Phone: (917) 620-5287
> Web site: http://www.globalcoral.org
> ***************************************************
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