[Coral-List] Reef Decline: the root cause

sale at uwindsor.ca sale at uwindsor.ca
Sat Sep 13 15:41:42 EDT 2008

The recent comments on the list concerning the global decline of coral 
reefs and the real cause (i.e. Homo sapiens in all his/her non-sapient 
glory) have been an interesting read.  Some of you may have seen my recent 
article in Marine Pollution Bulletin on the subject, now extended by 
Stephen Jameson's piece he circulated a couple of days ago.  Elsevier 
would not give me permission to post my pdf on my website, however I will 
fill any requests for it: Sale 2008. Management of coral reefs: Where we 
have gone wrong and what we can do about it, Mar. Poll. Bull. 56: 805-809. 
 (I believe it is posted on the website of Coral Cay Conservation -- an 
NGO that I am not affiliated with -- Elsevier gave them permission before 
refusing me.  Such is the logic of publishing houses!)

In June of this year, UNU-INWEH published a lengthier document, freely 
downloadable from our website titled:  "Stemming Decline of the Coastal 
Ocean: Rethinking Environmental Management".  In this article the authors, 
all of whom have considerable coral reef experience, try to go beyond 
enumerating the many ways in which human actions degrade coastal marine 
environments, to identify what specifically is wrong and why, and make 
recommendations on what can be done to improve the situation.  We find 
fault with just about everybody engaged in coastal management or use -- 
from the local managers and governments to industry, international NGOs, 
multinational agencies (read UN, World Bank, etc), and even local 
communities both on coasts and in developed nations far from coasts.  But 
we also make suggestions for action that each of these groups might take 
on to improve the currently rather poor situation.

Now is not the time to give up on people or our social structures just 
because they have been working very ineffectively to manage our impacts on 
the environment.  Now is the time to inform, educate, and encourage 
changes to behavior (individual, communal, and corporate).  I personally 
cannot believe that we humans are not a lot more capable of managing our 
impacts on the biosphere than our present and past behavior suggests. 
Hopefully my optimism is not misplaced.

To download "Stemming decline" go to www.inweh.unu.edu, click on "Coastal 
Zone Ecosystems", and go down to bottom of the page.

Peter F. Sale
Assistant Director
International Network on Water, Environment and Health
United Nations University  (UNU-INWEH)

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