[Coral-List] On the FKNMS and other FK environmental agencies staff

Georgina Bustamante gbustamante at bellsouth.net
Tue Jun 24 12:04:47 EDT 2008

This is supposed to be a scientific forum, but I can't help but add another
point to the ones well stated by Bill:
The staff of the FKNMS and other agencies the share the responsibility to
manage the region's natural resources conservation, generously (no-cost)
contributed with logistic resources and expertise to two very successful
editions of the 2-week long Regional Course for MPA Managers of the
Caribbean (coordinated by the UNEP-Caribbean Environment Programme and the
main capacity building activity if the Caribbean MPA Management Network and
Forum). Their support and availability/readiness to help went beyond my
expectations as a coordinator of these courses, and of UNEP-CEP leadership.
(FYI: we did not pay back with invitations to the Caribbean islands)

The trainees, MPA managers from all the Caribbean highly appreciated and
appraised (and vividly expressed) this contribution and the opportunity to
bring lessons back home. 

If we are to protect the Tropical NW Atlantic reefs we have to think
"biogeographically" in many senses, particularly on the human dimension. And
the FKNMS have played this role very well to reach out and connect with the
rest of the region. And despite obvious differences in socioeconomic
settings (particularly annual budgets) the FKNMS law enforcement officers
and managers humblely (is this word good English?) exchanged experiences
with the Caribbean managers and expressed their need to learn from them as

That kind of behavior not only help protect US reefs, but also US image and
prestige in the region. 

Georgina Bustamante, Ph.D.
Indepedent consultant 
Marine conservation and fisheries sciences
"Disseminating knowledge and creating networks to promote
best marine management practices in Latin America and the Caribbean"

3800 N Hills Dr. #216
Hollywood, Florida 33021
tel/fax(request) +1 (954) 963-3626; alt tel. +1 305-2265548
mobile: +1 (305) 2976995
gbustamante at bellsouth.net 
-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Billy Causey
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 7:55 AM
To: Curtis Kruer
Cc: SAC; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov; FKNMS; John Bruno
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Macroalgae in the Keys

    I will try to respond to your note without seeming personal or
    defensive, but both are difficult to manage.  However, since you
    have sent  this message to the Coral-list, and indeed the world, I 
    stand by without responding this time.  A long time ago, when you 
moved to
    Montana, I stopped reading your messages based on your snap-shot 
visits to the
    Florida Keys.  Your passion runs high for this very special place,
    no one could ever question that about you.  What I take exception to is
    how you seem to imply that you are the only one who cares about the 
    Keys coral reef ecosystem - that none of the FKNMS Team share your
    passion for this place.  You are mistaken.

    The FKNMS Team is made up of the most dedicated people I have ever
    worked with, in state or federal government.  But the FKNMS Team
    is more than government employees who get paid for their work (and not
    nearly enough).  They are government employees who work a third to
    half of their time without compensation.  We are a community who cares
    about this very special place we call home.  The paid staff of the
    FKNMS Team come from 2 state agencies and 1 federal agency who
    work together, focusing on protecting and conserving the resources 
of this
    special area.

    The FKNMS Team is also made up of dozens of hard working
    volunteers, such as those who serve on the Sanctuary Advisory
    Council, or Team OCEAN volunteers, or Reef Medic volunteers, or
    the dozens of volunteers who support Sanctuary operations in a
    variety of ways.  The Sanctuary Advisory Council has served since
    February of 1992, and dozens of individuals have given of their
    precious personal time and made personal sacrifices to help
    protect and conserve the Florida Keys. Curtis ... you should
    attend one of these meetings some time and experience the passion
    and commitment that makes yours pale by comparison.
    The FKNMS Team is also comprised of all of the local, state,
    federal and NGO partnerships that exist.  These are partnerships
    that are essential if the goals and objectives of the Sanctuary are 
to be realized.
    Goals and objectives that were created by the Sanctuary Advisory 
Council -
    again, individuals and leaders in the community who have given of their
    time to make a difference in this special place.

    Coral reef ecosystems around the world are facing the same major
    threats: climate change, land-based sources of pollution, habitat loss
    and degradation, and overfishing.  And the Florida Keys are no
    different.  Yet there are differences.  Millions of people visit the
    Keys and most of them end up on the water.  The coral reefs here
    are the most accessible in the world and are the heaviest used coral 
    in the world.  They are on the door-step of 5-6 million people who 
live in
    South Florida, many of whom trailer their own boats down a single
    highway and launch them.  The Florida Keys are at a cross-roads of
    connectivity between the waters of the Wider Caribbean, 40% of the
    drainage off North America and downstream of the South Florida
    Ecosystem.  It is a special place in high demand and under
    extraordinary stresses from use. These facts cannot be denied, or

    Curtis ... you make a good point in your statement: "The job of the
    FKNMS was to protect and manage the coral reef ecosystem of the Keys
    _for the good of all___._" That one sentence captures the entire
    challenge of managing a multiple-use marine protected area like the 
    Keys. Not everyone shares your values or opinions about how the
    resources are to be used. Nor do they share mine or those of the FKNMS
>>     Team. In fact I would say that the vast majority of those 
>> visiting the Florida
>>     Keys don't share our values. But they still have a right to 
>> access and use of the
>>     resources ... in ways that make me cringe. However, the situation 
>> gets
>>     more complicated. The FKNMS shares authority and jurisdiction 
>> with 27
>>     other local, state and federal agencies. The State of Florida is
>>     co-trustee and owner of the submerged lands in 65% of the Sanctuary.
>>     They have shared authority and jurisdiction over the majority of the
>>     waters of the Sanctuary. Many who may have read your posting 
>> wouldn't
>>     know that there are multiple, overlapping jurisdictions ... in an 
>> area
>>     the size of the State of Vermont.  Can you imagine ... how many law
>>     enforcement officers there are in the State of Vermont at the local,
>>     county, state and federal levels?  If we had that many Enforcement
>>     Officers in the Keys, we would be accused of having a police
>>     state. Yet, with all of that enforcement in Vermont people still 
>> speed and
>>     have accidents. And we see that every day on the water in the
>>     Keys.  Regardless of the regulations in place in the FKNMS, people
>>     still prop scar and run aground on seagrass beds.      The keys 
>> to the future
>> of the Sanctuary lie in the next generations.  Education and outreach 
>> arethe most effective management tools that we can utilize.  The 
>> Seagrass Outreach
    Partnership in the FKNMS has gained a tremendous amount of
    momentum over the past 5 to 7 years and people are working
    together to address a huge problem.  Flatsfishermen, agency
    representatives, educators and conservationists are working
    together, to bring attention to impacts to seagrass. Government 
cannot do it
    alone and it is in the Keys where personal ownership of resource
    interests come together to work towards collective long term 
solutions.  In fact, the
    Keys community is frequently sought out as a model for cooperative and
    coordinated management.

    The problems affecting coral reefs, especially those in the
    Florida Keys, are enormous.  There's no question about it.  It 
troubles me to
    see the decline at popular reefs like Looe Key Reef, but it also
    troubles me to see the decline on coral reefs in remote areas
    around the Caribbean, or in the Pacific.  It's easy to put ones
    self in an adversarial or finger pointing role, however it's more 
difficult to put      ones self in a role of creating positive change 
through a public participatory process.
     The next time you visit Florida, try to attend a Sanctuary
    Advisory Council meeting and learn about passion and commitment in
    the trenches.  Here you would have an opportunity to provide cogent 
and realistic
    alternatives to our current management approaches to an Advisory
    Council comprised of a diverse range of stakeholders.  You have an open
    invitation to attend and provide public comment at any Sanctuary
    Advisory Council meeting.

    Billy Causey

Curtis Kruer wrote:
> Hi John,
> If Billy Causey's job was only to manage for minimizing macroalgal cover 
> cover you might be correct.  But the reality is that the Keys' coral 
> reef ecosystem is a mess (for example shoreline mangroves, shallow 
> seagrass, marine habitat disturbance and degradation, trap debris and 
> trap impacts, loss of hard coral cover in popular dive sites, sacrifice 
> zones on seagrass beds where 1000s of partying boats predictably and 
> routinely congregate in shallow water, large vessels routinely 
> resuspending sediment in coral areas, etc.) and has worsened 
> considerably since the designartion of the FKNMS in 1990.  The job of 
> the FKNMS was to protect and manage the coral reef ecosystem of the Keys 
> for the good of all.   In my view (based on 30+ years of work there), 
> and the view of many others, it has failed miserably.  As your email 
> arrived I was working through some routine GIS and imagery review I do 
> in the Keys utilizing high resolution 2006 color aerial imagery.  You 
> should get a set and take a look for yourself.  
> Geez.  
> So that no one on the list is misinformed possibly you could clarify 
> your comment - "....are in my view some of the world's most successful 
> reef managers." - and explain that it applies only to macroalgae??  
> Thanks.  
> Curtis Kruer
> John Bruno wrote:
>> MACROALGAL COVER IN THE FL KEYS:  Dear Chip,  Macroalgal cover in the  
>> Florida Keys is only about 10%.  A recent paper based on CREMP  
>> monitoring indicates that it was 9.6% in 2000 (Maliao et al. 2008,  
>> Marine Biology).  My own unpublished meta-analysis based on CREMP data  
>> plus a variety of other sources indicates it was "recently" 12.2 ±  
>> 0.4% (n=1048 quantative reef surveys performed between 1996 and 2005)  
>> and macroalgal cover exceeded 50% in only 2.5% of these surveys.  This  
>> is substantially lower than the average in the greater Caribbean of  
>> roughly 20% and identical to the Indo-Pacific mean.
>> Nobody knows what the historical baseline (i.e., the subregional  
>> average, not the value on a single undisturbed reef) of macroalgal  
>> cover was in the Keys (or anywhere else), but I doubt that it was any  
>> lower than 5%.  So we may have seen a rough doubling of macroalgal  
>> cover, but we are very far from a state that could rationally be  
>> described as "macroalgal dominated" or "little more than rubble,  
>> seaweed and slime".
>> Billy Causey and his team are in my view some of the world's most  
>> successful reef managers; the quantitative monitoring data indicates  
>> that they have been very successful in managing the major threats to  
>> reefs that they are capable of mitigating.  They obviously cannot  
>> prevent climate change and coral disease outbreaks, but they have done  
>> a good job at managing for low-ish macroalgal cover (which will  
>> ideally, at some point facilitate coral recovery).  Macroalgal cover  
>> the GBR is about 7% (based on AIMS monitoring), but those reefs are  
>> 10s-100s of km offshore, i.e., very isolated and naturally  
>> oliogotrophic compared to the Keys, and didn't suffer the virtual  
>> extinction of their key grazer or their dominant coral species as the  
>> Keys did due to regional epizootics.  All things considered, at least  
>> in terms of macroalgal cover, the Keys are in relatively good shape.   
>> Lets give the Keys management team - and all the other successful  
>> local reef managers - some credit, base our arguments and discussion  
>> on the facts, and focus on the real threats to reefs.
>> TOP-DOWN VS. BOTTOM-UP:  Dear Imam, assuming that like most of us you  
>> are not swayed by the ideology and anecdotes you have been reading on  
>> the list in response to your query, I'd start with Alina Szmant's  
>> authoritative review (2002 Estuaries) of the published science on  
>> nutrient and grazer control of macroalgal biomass on reefs.  You might  
>> also look at Idjadi et al (2006, Coral Reefs), which documented the  
>> immediate loss of macroalgal cover (to 6%) as soon as Diadema returned  
>> to the scene on a reef purported to be one of the most eutrified in  
>> the world.  There are a slew of other peer-reviewed papers that  
>> document similar removal of macroalgae on reefs widely described as  
>> highly eutrified once grazer populations recover (e.g., Edmunds and  
>> Carpenter 2001 PNAS, Carpenter and Edmunds 2006 Ecology Letters, Mumby  
>> et al. 2006 Science, etc.).  Also see Williams and Polunin (2001 Coral  
>> Reefs); a very powerful and important study that documented the  
>> striking negative relationship (r2=0.89) between fish biomass  
>> (particularly Scarid biomass) and macroalgal cover.   Finally, if you  
>> expand your search beyond the coral reef world, you'd find that in  
>> estuaries and in temperate and cold water benthic systems, urchins and  
>> other grazers are easily able to control macroalgal production that is  
>> far greater, under nutrient concentrations many orders of magnitude  
>> higher than those ever seen on reefs.  Just think about Jim Estes'  
>> work on Pacific otters-you remove them, urchin populations explode,  
>> macroalgae disappears and what remains is an "urchin barren"; and this  
>> occurs in upwelling systems with lots-o-nutrients.  This was also seen  
>> in the Gulf of Maine after Cod were removed by fishing (at least  
>> before people started harvesting urchins, then the macroalgae all came  
>> back); see Steneck and Carlton's and Duffy and Hay's very nice reviews  
>> of all this the Marine Community Ecology book (eds. Bertness et al  
>> 2001,
>> .  And look at the recent review by Heck and Valentine (2007 Estuaries  
>> and Coasts) which outlines all the evidence for top down control in  
>> estuaries around the world.
>> If you stick to the hard science, the answer to your question is  
>> fairly clear - at least as clear as anything gets in ecology.  Let me  
>> know if you have any trouble getting any of these papers.
>> Sincerely,
>> JB
>> John Bruno
>> Associate Professor
>> Depts. of Biology and Marine Sciences
>> UNC Chapel Hill
>> www.brunolab.net
>>> Dear Imam,
>>> The relationship between nutrients and algal growth is well  
>>> established, and the influences of herbivory on algal growth and  
>>> cover have also been demonstrated.  However, as Dr. Goreau stated,  
>>> the lack of successful integration of nutrients and herbivory in any  
>>> of those studies has contributed to a disconnect.  In Florida, where  
>>> a large coastal population has resulted in mesotrophic and more  
>>> typically eutrophic coastal waters, we have a high % of algal cover  
>>> and biomass.  Add the facts that we do not fish for herbivorous  
>>> fishes, and that we have removed a fair % of their predators; it  
>>> follows that Florida would have an increase in herbivorous fishes,  
>>> and therefore our relative herbivory.  But we are still plagued by  
>>> macroalgal dominance, losses of coral and Harmful Algal Blooms. This  
>>> suggests that nutrients are indeed an important factor shaping the  
>>> algal community.  Hatcher and Larkum (1983, JEMBE 69, pp61-84)  
>>> compared grazing and nitrogen concentrations on One Tree Reef in
>>> Australia and found both grazing and nitrogen were important in  
>>> limiting algal growth.
>>> Sincerely,
>>> Chip
>>> Rex "Chip" Baumberger
>>> Biological Scientist, FAU
>>> Marine Nutrient Dynamics Dept.
>>> Marine Science Division
>>> Harbor Branch Oceanographic Inst.
>>> 5600 US1 North
>>> Fort Pierce, FL 34946
>>> 772-465-2400 x398
>> _______________________________________________
>> Coral-List mailing list
>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

Billy D. Causey, Ph.D., Regional Director
Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region
National Marine Sanctuary Program
33 East Quay Road
Key West, Florida 33040

305.809.4670 (ex 234)
305.395.0150 (cell)
305.293.5011 (fax)

Billy.Causey at noaa.gov

Coral-List mailing list
Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

More information about the Coral-List mailing list