[Coral-List] Of Artificial Reefs, Corporate Bodies & Reef

Todd Barber reefball at reefball.com
Thu Sep 17 11:30:14 EDT 2009

Hi Sebastian,

The Reef Ball Foundation has a certification program where either 
mitigations or reef rehabilitation efforts are certified as using "best 
practices" and having followed the processes outlined in the Step by Step 
Guide to Reef Rehabiltation that we wrote to ensure grassroots (or private 
non-scientific efforts) follow process steps that set defined goals for a 
project, quantify them, designs approaches to accomplish them, and then 
monitors and adjusts against those goals and measurements.

While this process is not perfect and is continually being refined (as new 
science and practical experiances allow), it does help guide projects to 
successful implementation of reef rehabilitation efforts.

Obviously, in this case, Panasonic did not contact us for guidance or 
certification or for example they would have found that any plastic product 
(PVC) is not an acceptable material for grassroots efforts.  (And we are not 
making value judgments on if PVC is usefully as scientists may find so in 
specific situations...what we ARE saying is that Grassroots and private 
organizations should not use certain materials that are known to have had 
problems in the past...in the case of PVC disassociation, movement, and 
MARPOL legal violations are just a few of the issues).

As a certifying public non-profit organization, we encourage all of you as 
scientists to bear pressure on projects involving reef rehabilitation with 
questionable motives, skills, resources, or knowledge to contact us (or any 
other qualified reef rehabilitation entity) and to obtain proper guidance.

In our view, ANY resources that are attempting to aid our reef ecosystems 
can be helpful.....as long as we all band together to make sure the efforts 
are at least in the right direction and have little or no downside effects 
on the ecosystem.  Most efforts just need good guidance!


Todd R. Barber
Chairman, Reef Ball Foundation

Skype name: toddbarber
Cell Phone 941-720-7549

3305 Edwards Court
Greenville, NC 27858

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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sebastian Ferse" <sferse at aol.com>
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 3:46 PM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Of Artificial Reefs, Corporate Bodies & Reef

Dear Bart!

The idea of having large companies such as Panasonic going into reef
restoration as part of their corporate social responsibility to me seems
controversial, as I see the danger that it is being used to promote a green
image of the company (that's the whole idea) and thus is being widely
advertised, most likely without sufficient accompanying information, which
might foster the idea of reefs being easily handled and 'reforested'
ecosystems to the public mind.

Although I agree that in cases where companies are responsible for reef
degradation (even remotely), they should consider doing something to reverse
or reduce their impact, reef restoration is a complex issue that is not
easily tackled. I believe that in many cases, education and better
management will have a more profound impact on reef health than 'sexy' feats
like coral transplantation. There certainly are cases where active
restoration is warranted and needed, but the science involved is usually a
lot more complex than what companies can aim for in CSR projects - some
exceptions are possible, of course.

While the objectives described in the article ('encourage and stimulate the
diverse marine life and corals to form and regenerate; assist in rebuilding
the ocean's complex ecological system; expose and educate the public on the
effects of coral depletion and its negative impact on the oceans; keep track
of and examine previously planted artificial reefs; carry out ocean cleaning
and other environmental activities') are laudable enough, their choice of
material for artificial reefs (PVC tubes) to me seems suboptimal at best.
Benthic organisms may grow on it, but I doubt that it is robust and heavy
enough to withstand strong currents, swells, or storms. If that's the case,
Panasonic may be repeating the tire-reef disaster off the Florida coast (or
at least they may not succeed in providing long-lasting structures). Several
other established methods, such as BioRocks, EcoReefs or ReefBalls, probably
are more suitable for their goals.

All the technicalities aside, there remains the issue of what kind of image
is being created if big companies go into reef restoration as a sort of PR

Coral reefs are delicate and complex systems, and a thorough and
context-relevant understanding is needed to manage them. I am afraid that
this aspect may get lost if big companies discover them as a playground for
their CSR programs.

Best regards,


Dr. Sebastian Ferse

Leibniz Zentrum für Marine Tropenökologie (ZMT)
Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology
Fahrenheitstrasse 6
D-28359 Bremen

Phone: +49-421-238 00 28
Fax: +49-421-238 00 30
Mobile: +49-1577-237 9259
e-mail: sebastian.ferse at zmt-bremen.de

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