[Coral-List] Heidi S & Reef Manager's Guide to Bleaching...Coral-List Digest, Vol 41, Issue 21

Jack Sobel jsobel at oceanconservancy.org
Fri Nov 17 16:36:39 EST 2006

Heidi: Thanks to you and your colleagues for producing and sharing a
thoughtful and useful publicication and for your calm and rational
response to criticism of it.  I enjoyed the presentation I attended on
the Guide and am still reading through it.  I think you have done a good
job of tackling a difficult issue and providing useful and practical
information and recommendations.  Thanks also for sharing the ITMEMS
language which I had not previously seen.  Jack Sobel

Jack Sobel, Director
Strategic Conservation Science & Policy
The Ocean Conservancy
2029 K St. NW
Washington, DC  20006
Main Phone:	(202)429-5609 ext. 454
Direct Line:	(202)351-0454
Mobile/Cell:	(202)262-6926
Facsimile:	(202)872-0619
Email:		jsobel at oceanconservancy.org
Web site: http://www.oceanconservancy.org/
Become an Advocate for Wild, Healthy Oceans 

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Subject: Heidi S & Reef Manager's Guide to Bleaching...Coral-List
Digest, Vol 41, Issue 21

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Today's Topics:

   1. A Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching (Heidi Schuttenberg)


Message: 1
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2006 16:53:52 +1000
From: Heidi Schuttenberg <heidi.schuttenberg at jcu.edu.au>
Subject: [Coral-List] A Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Message-ID: <01c001c70882$cfed13e0$6401a8c0 at Heidi>
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed; charset="UTF-8";

Dear James, Tom, and the Coral-list,

The future of coral reefs will be determined both by the rate & severity
of climate change and by the effectiveness of management action to
address local and regional stressors to reefs, with land-based sources
of pollution, overfishing & destructive fishing, and recreational misuse
or overuse typically being the most significant local/regional
stressors.  ?A Reef Manager?s Guide to Coral Bleaching?, the publication
we developed with contributions from over 50 of the world?s most
experienced coral reef scientists and managers, is very specific in
highlighting the need for action on both fronts (page 10 in the
publication; available for download at

?Our understanding of mass bleaching suggests that the future condition
of coral reefs will

be largely influenced by two factors: (1) the rate and extent of sea
temperature increases9,13

and (2) the resilience of coral reef ecosystems11, 39, 40. The rate and
extent of warming will

determine the window of opportunity for reefs to adjust through

adaptation, and other ecological shifts. For example, fewer and less
intense temperature

anomalies will reduce the frequency and severity of bleaching events,
and slower rates of

warming will allow more time for reefs to recover between events that do
occur. These

relationships mean that the effectiveness of broader efforts to address
the rate and extent

of warming will have significant implications for local management
initiatives28, 40.

However, such efforts are largely a matter for national and
policy and lie beyond the scope of this volume. The focus of this guide
on the second factor: What actions can local coral reef managers
to restore and maintain the natural resilience of their coral reefs?


While ?A Reef Manager?s Guide to Coral Bleaching? is aimed at supporting

coral reef managers; your passion about the importance of also
climate change is well placed; although, of course, targeted at a
audience?i.e., policy-makers.  At ITMEMS, we hosted a theme on Climate 
Change and Building Resilience Into Coral Reef Management.  A key output
the theme was adoption of an ITMEMS statement on Coral Bleaching and
Change aimed at policy-makers.  The text of that statement, which
specific targets for sea temperature increase and ocean carbonate ion 
concentrations, is provided at the bottom of this message.


Reef managers around the world are in an extremely difficult situation
responding to the threat that climate change and mass coral bleaching 
present to the resources under their stewardship?a threat that is beyond

their control.  The suggestion that local reef management no longer
given the looming threat of climate change is extremely damaging to
efforts and is not supported by the best available science.  Supporting 
coral reef resilience as a strategy for responding to this situation is 
proving useful to coral reef managers around the world.  We highlight
studies from Palau, the Meso-American Reef, Seychelles, and American
in ?A Reef Manager?s Guide to Coral Bleaching.?

Managing reefs for resilience means continuing on-going efforts to
the conditions that allow coral reefs to recover from disturbance
most importantly having good water quality and a strong herbivory
It also suggests other strategies:

?  Managing coral reefs not only to maintain their current condition
is unlikely given climate change projections), but to maximize their
to recover from disturbance events

?  Measuring coral reef condition in terms of ability to be resilient
than ability to maintain current state.

?  Managing with an expectation of unpredictable surprises, rather than 
assuming we have a clear idea of what the future holds under various 
management regimes

?  Identifying coral reef areas that may be more likely to be resilient
mass coral bleaching and providing such ?lucky? areas with extra


When managers are able to respond effectively during mass bleaching
it increases awareness about coral reefs, climate change, and local
to reefs among key constituencies of policy-makers and stakeholders.
bleaching events are dramatic, highly visual, and generally considered 
news-worthy by the media.  When managers are able to communicate the 
ecological and socio-economic impacts of these events, they are able to 
enhance support for taking local management actions and for addressing 
climate change.

Thank you for highlighting these critical issues on the coral-list.  The

thoughtful discussions you?ve kicked off have gotten to the core of many

troubling questions facing coral reef managers:

?  Can reef manager?s take meaningful action in response to climate

?  What does it mean to manage reefs for resilience?

?  How can reef scientists and managers influence the policy forums 
negotiating climate change?

There has been thousands of hours of effort go into this document, 
contributed by over 50 individuals who have worked, mostly in their own 
time, out of a passion for coral reefs and a commitment to developing 
proactive and practicable responses to coral bleaching and climate
change. A 
driving realisation for many of us has been this: even worse than coral 
reefs being destroyed by rampant climate change would be a future where 
humanity does manage to stabilise climate at a point that permits the 
survival of coral reef ecosystems, but that reefs do not persist because

their resilience (capacity to recover or adjust, in this context) was 
fatally compromised as a result of ineffectual local management. Coral 
bleaching and climate change do not make redundant the multitude of
threats that reefs are under, nor the efforts that manager?s have been 
pitching themselves at for the last decade or two. Quite the opposite: 
climate change makes these issues a matter of life and death for coral
ecosystems like never before. For these reasons, climate change provides
opportunity to increase the support for and capacity of coral reef
to make effective progress, once and for all, on those stresses that are

amenable to local management efforts. Call us optimists ? and you will

A Reef Manager?s Guide takes a first stab at proposing a framework for 
advancing management and science on the most challenging problem for
reefs today.  It also creates an opportunity for coral reef managers to 
generate their own, compelling stories about the plight of their reefs, 
which can form a powerful impetus for policy responses to climate
change. We 
look forward to more feedback from coral reef managers as they field
the strategies outlined in the Guide and the broader community is able
learn from this evolving practical experience.

Hard copies of A Reef Manager?s Guide are available for free by
the relevant distribution node or the authors:

Asia-Pacific region: info at gbrmpa.gov.au

Americas: BleachingGuide at noaa.gov

Indian Ocean/Europe: james.oliver at iucn.org

With best regards,

Heidi Schuttenberg and Paul Marshall

heidi.schuttenberg at jcu.edu.au

p.marshall at gbrmpa.gov.au

ITMEMS 3 statement on

Coral reefs and climate change

There is no longer any doubt that the earth?s climate is changing,
rapidly warming seas and ocean acidification.  Warming seas are causing 
increased mass coral bleaching and mortality, with little evidence that 
corals and their symbionts can evolve fast enough to keep pace.   In 
addition to these impacts, there is now strong evidence that acidifying
are reducing calcification rates.  Other consequences, such as rapid sea

level rise and increased frequency and intensity of tropical storms, and

impacts on other organisms and ecosystems, further emphasize the urgent
to limit the rate and extent of global climate change.

Projected changes in temperature and ocean acidity pose significant
for reef-building corals.  As reef-building corals build the habitat and

ecosystem in which many tens of thousands of organisms live, these
in global climate are causing major changes to the biodiversity of the 
ocean.  Because coral reefs directly support at least 100 million people
multi-billion dollar industries, like tourism and fisheries, these
will cause significant socio-economic impacts and threaten food security
developing nations.

Two strategies must be implemented to mitigate the impacts of climate
to coral reefs.  The first is to limit climate change. The second is to 
build the resilience of tropical marine ecosystems and communities to 
maximize their ability to resist and recover from impacts such as mass
bleaching. Within this context our ability to effectively reduce other 
stressors will determine the future of coral reefs.

The actions required to support reef resilience to climate change are:

  1.. Limit climate change to ensure that further increases in sea 
temperature are limited to 2oC above pre-industrial levels and ocean 
carbonate ion concentrations do not fall below 200 ?mol. kg-1.
  2.. Recognise that mass coral bleaching will have similar social and 
economic consequences as other environmental disasters such as oil
and droughts and will require similar responses.
  3.. Facilitate and finance actions to increase resilience of coral
social-ecological systems, particularly through marine management area 
networks comprising adequate areas of coral reefs and associated
habitats in 
non-extraction zones, protection of water quality and herbivore
and adaptive governance.
  4.. Facilitate and finance assessments of risk and vulnerability of
reefs to climate change.
  5.. Facilitate and finance the development and implementation of coral

bleaching response programs, including contingency funding.
  6.. Create incentives for development of partnerships for adaptation.
  7.. Increase investments in targeted messages to accelerate adaptation
climate change.
  8.. Invest in village-to-global education and communication for
adaptation that will integrate traditional and scientific knowledge into

implementation of adaptation strategies for coral reefs around the


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