[Coral-List] Remnancy vs resiliency Part 3: making a list

Szmant, Alina szmanta at uncw.edu
Thu Mar 23 12:21:45 EST 2006

I'd like to add one real 'biggy' to the list:


It's seafood demand that creates the incentive for people to capture, at
any cost, and down to the last critter, reef fishes, lobsters, octopi
etc.  There is plenty of evidence, some only conjectural I admit, about
the effects on 'reef health' of lop-sided coral reef trophic webs with
no predators, and that includes the grazers, too, which prey on smaller
critters.  I was amazed after the furor about Bakers Cay that there was
barely a peep about opening the Florida Keys lobster fishery a month

The lobster fishermen in the Keys are trashing our precious coral reefs
with their traps and lines, and I don't hear anyone screaming about
that...only sewage!  Why not????   

After every hurricane or major storm, the reefs are covered by trap
debris that stays there for years banging into the corals. The thick
lines from the traps drag for 50 to 100 of feet and get tangled into the
few remaining Acropora colonies, and all over sponges and soft corals.
The lobster fishermen are not responsible for recovering lost/broken
traps.  They just go buy new ones and toss them out there the following
year as close as they can to any unprotected hard-bottom/coral reef and
out-lining the perimeters of the SPAs(Sanctuary Preservation Areas...
no-take zones within the FKNMS).  No wonder that the traps end up inside
the SPAs after every storm.  

The modern seafood industry is amazing!  And the issue is not limited to
just local reef fisheries.  Fishes (generically including lobster,
octopus etc) caught off of Honduras, Martinique, Guana Cay or any place
else in the world, end up in consolidation markets in major ports (e.g.
Miami, San Francisco), and from their to major re-packagers and
international seafood redistribution centers (e.g. Kansas City) from
where they are shipped to local distributors for sale to restaurants
(e.g. Chicago, Wilmington, La Parguera PR, Athens Ga, Key Largo FL,
Nassau).  So there's no way to know which desecrated reef the snapper or
grouper you buy came from (i.e. one in your back yard you are trying to
protect, or one in somebody else's back yard that you are willing to
look the other way in order to enjoy a nice meal).

David Doubilet, famous National Geographic UW photographer, who is lucky
enough to travel and photograph the most remote and 'pristine' of coral
reefs, was asked what the biggest change he had observed in coral reefs
was (this was ca. 10 years ago), and he replied:  No big fishes or big
anything else.  Thus it's not just near developments that this is
happening, it's everywhere people can get with their boats and GPS and
sonar fish finders...everywhere...  Including where the 15 commercial
fishing boats on Guana Cay catch their fishes.

My suggestions for all of you out there who care about the World's coral
reefs (and "World Peace", for those of you who are Miss Congeniality
fans)do the following:

1)  Never, ever again take a vacation to a coral reef unless you have a
way to take home with you every scrap of material (soda & beer bottles,
left over food, your personal waste products, including used toilet
2)  Convince all of your friends and neighbors from taking reef
vacations, and protest at local travel agents that sell people tours to
coral reef locations.

3)  Never, EVER again eat a spiny lobster, grouper, snapper or any other
reef dwelling predator, and complain vociferously if you find them
listed on the menu any place you eat, or if anyone else in your party
orders them in your presence.

If everyone participated in this way, we could maybe start to reverse
the health of coral reefs, all of which are overfished compared to their
pre-modern condition.  Even within no-take zones there's plenty of
poaching,a nd by only trying to protect a few reef areas against fishing
(20 % of US reefs is the goal of the US Coral Reef Task Force) then you
condemn 80 % of the reefs of the world to have dysfunctional trophic
dynamics (i.e. too much algae and sponges, and not much of anything

OK, this is longer than I had hoped, but I am now ready for the flaming
to begin.  Jim H. advised me to drink some good PR rum to fortify
myself, but rum is made from sugar cane and we all know that sugar cane
uses a lot of fertilizer, and the run-off from the sugar cane fields has
been damaging to coral reefs all over the Caribbean, especially  those
of my beloved Puerto Rico (in the past, very little cane left in PR; now
it's sun coffee for all you coffee drinkers), so I'll have to stick with
Diet Coke (until I can find the connection from that to coral reefs).

Alina Szmant

Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Coral Reef Research Group
UNCW-Center for Marine Science 
5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409
Tel: (910)962-2362 & Fax:  (910)962-2410
Cell:  (910)200-3913
email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Jeffrey Low
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2006 8:51 AM
To: Phil Dustan; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Remnancy vs resiliency Part 3: making a list

Hi Phil,

I collated some from the various emails on this issue
... mostly "personal" level stuff, though. Hope this

Key actions - local actions for global response

1. Education
- educate the kids
- reach out (don't preach to the converted)
- identify a mascot species
- create realistic, entertaining shows
- educate developers / politicians

2. Reduce consumption
- reduce energy consumption (air conditioners, lights,
electrical appliances)
- make recycling part of our life
- consume less
- buy local
- travel less
- use public transport, use the stairs, walk instead
of drive (for short distances) 

3. Participate
- teach at a local school
- be active in NGOs
- blog about issues
- by creating websites on conservation issues

--- Phil Dustan <dustanp at cofc.edu> wrote:

> Dear Listers,
> 	Now that we have exhausted all the rhetoric and
> have cleared our minds 
> and consciences, might it be possible to translate
> our feelings into 
> actions that could be accomplished at the scales of
> Global, regional, 
> and local?
> lease post your comments if you'd like to contribute
> and I will work 
> towards collating them...............Please try to keep things
> short (and perhaps 
> sweet).
> Here are a few possibilities:
> 	Global -
> 		US should sign the Kyoto Accord,
> 		Reduce generation of African Dust
> 	Regional in the Caribbean
> 		Large scale culture and release of Diadema
> antillarum
> 		Construct a basin-wide system of no-take MPAs
> 	Local:
> 		Larger no-take zones in the Florida Keys National
> Marine 			Sanctuary
> 		Construction of sewer and septic systems in the
> Florida 			Keys that 
> actually meet design criteria for removal of 			
> nutrients,BOD, and 
> microbial contaminants
> 		Provide incentives to restore the terrestrial
> landscape 				to 
> minimize loss of nutrients and sediments
> 		Thanks,
> 		Phil
> -- 
> Phillip Dustan  Ph.D.
> Department of Biology
> College of Charleston
> Charleston   SC  29424
> (843) 953-8086 voice
> (843) 953-5453 (Fax)
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

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