[Coral-List] Declaration Concerns

Gregor Hodgson gregorh at reefcheck.org
Fri Mar 16 18:15:43 EDT 2007

I can understand that some may feel legitimate concerns about the wording of
the Declaration of Reef Rights.  www.reefcheck.org/petition/petition.php

The Declaration was not designed to inhibit scientific work or increase
government bureaucracy or go after aquaculturists, aquarium traders or even
home aquarium hobbiests such as myself. It was designed to raise awareness
about coral reef issues for the 2008 International Year of The Reef, and
possibly encourage a few people -- even scientists -- to think before they
interact with reefs. 

A major if not THE major problem facing coral reefs is ignorance among the
general public and in government about the existence, value and problems of
coral reefs. Most people don't know, and don't care. Therefore we lack a
constituency demanding that coral reefs be better cared for. If we can get a
large number of people to sign this declaration by the end of 2008, and can
present this to government leaders in all coral reef countries, and raise
some noise, perhaps it might help to raise some awareness in governments as
well? Who knows, might even generate more funds for reef science.

Given the more than 1000 people from a few dozen countries already signed
onto the Declaration this week, including prominent coral reef scientists
(even geologists!), I think most people understand the goal and were able to
overlook imperfections. But for those who are still concerned, there are a
series of explanatory notes at the bottom of the petition page -- please
read them. Note #1 addresses concerns of aquaculturists and the marine
aquarium trade folks. 

Note #8 may mollify some concerned scientists. It states: "This Declaration
was designed primarily to address the general public and reef users such as
fishermen, boaters, divers and snorkelers. Many scientists and
aquaculturists who are working to understand coral reefs sometimes need to
disturb or collect coral reef specimens for their work. We encourage
scientists to sign the Declaration with the understanding that they are
pledging to follow local regulations regarding experiments and collecting
and that they will seek to minimize any damage they cause."

I can remember the days at Heron Island and Lerner Lab (Bimini) back in the
1960s when there was no concern about dredging or building structures on the
reefs, and later at Coconut Island when the backhoe was an important
research instrument, driven out onto the reef flat. I suspect geologists
have done their fair share of reef reorganization.

Too all those who are willing to overlook imperfections, and have signed and
sent to their friends -- Thank you!

Gregor Hodgson, PhD
Executive Director, Reef Check Foundation
P.O. Box 1057 (mail)
17575 Pacific Coast Highway (Fedex)
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272-1057
Tel: +1-310-230-2371 Fax: +1-310-230-2376
email: gregorh at reefcheck.org

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