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

Curtis Kruer kruer at 3rivers.net
Thu Mar 23 13:50:36 EST 2006


In this day and age aggressive, progressive approaches to resource management is exactly what's 
needed - both from a resource management and the advocacy standpoint.  We've tried the other 
approach and the victories have been few and far between.  And understanding "shifting baselines" is 
critical.  A friend in the Keys recently reminded me that the place still looks great to newbies 
from New Jersey.

AS: "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???? ""

In regard to the problem of traps and trap debris in the Keys I agree with you completely but 
disagree about no one screaming about it.  How many copies of letters to the state and feds with 
data and information backing up the claims of scope and impact would you like?  Agencies in the Keys 
are well aware of the magnitude of the problem with hundreds of thousands of traps and styro buoys 
predictably lost each year and hundreds of miles of non-degradable poly trap line left in the 
environment. The agencies heard from me loud and clear for many years and have chosen to do next to 
nothing other than some well publicized cleanups in highly visible areas of nearshore flats.  Maybe 
Tom Mathews and John Hunt with the FWCC in the Keys could speak up and advise us what's being done 
to address the problem.

The trap fishermen as we speak are asking for subsidies ($$ and an earlier, longer season) and are 
not being held responsible for their mess in Keys waters.  The state has been concerned for a long 
time about the terrible inefficiency in this fishery and the widespread problem of ghost traps that 
continue to fish.  NOAA determined years ago that traps left in one spot for more then a few weeks 
kill the seagrass under them (a 40 lb concrete slab forms the base of a typical trap).  And, as you 
suggest, the problems is extremely obvious to all underwater in heavily trapped areas of the reef.

This issue is a classic example of Keys agencies knowing what's happening and choosing to either not 
address it at all (like "sacrifice areas") or doing just enough to get by. If you want info about 
the problems of trap debris in the Keys just let me know.

And with that I'm going to have a rum - I still drink it.

Curtis Kruer

Szmant, Alina wrote:
> 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
> early.
> 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
> paper).
> 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
> else).
> 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
> helps.
> 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 
>>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
>>		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
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
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