[Coral-List] The infamous 82 corals and what members of Coral-List ought to be doing about them

Les Kaufman lesk at bu.edu
Sat Feb 27 13:53:56 EST 2010

Dear Martin, Gene, and everyone,

Regarding the 82 corals: there are basically three things that members  
of this community can do relevant to brightening the future for coral  
reefs and people.

1. We can put energy into policy to fight and adapt to climate change.
2. We can put energy into policy that harmonizes local human  
activities with coral reef health and resilience.
3. We can do the science that is the guidance system and provides  
accountability for the policies enacted in pursuit of #1 and #2.

All three are required, in synchrony.

Diplomats and lawyers ride point on #1.
Conservationists and lawyers are shotgun on #2.
Scientists (no lawyers, please!) are responsible for #3, plus they  
ought to learn how to talk good.

The Center for Biological Diversity is strong in law.  Obviously,  
there was a logic that listing a bunch of corals that live in US  
waters would provide legal handles to move peoples' behavior toward  
doing things good for coral reefs.  It might channel good outcomes  
through #1, but can definitely do so through #2.  So the aim was off a  
bit, so it's a funky list borrowed from a different (IUCN) exercise;  
maybe CBD figures with a nuclear device you don't need precision aim,  
though you'd better be ready for collateral damage, both to the ESA  
and to relationships between scientists and activists.

Oh wait I forgot, Martin wanted this to be a car, not a war.  Okay, so  
we can make sure the car runs and handles well so we keep it from  
crashing into a brick wall.  In other words, we can encourage  
excellent watershed and marine resource management, maximizing coral  
reef resilience.  Threatening to sue people if they screw up the  
watershed or the health of functionally key species is one way to do  
this.  I'm not so sure we should be discouraging CBD from following  
this route, even if it takes a moment's thought to see the logic of it.

So: can we help CBD identify the flashpoints that will ignite if the  
82 species are listed?  What would be the coherent legal strategy to  
drag the US by this one handle into an era of coral reef renaissance?
What scientific ammunition would be needed to make this work?

If we know the rules of the game, and the strategy is an impressive  
one, why not play on the winning team?

I think CBD should explain its complete stratey to this group and  
enlist the support of whoever happens to agree.  The rest can choose a  
different number or handle.


Les Kaufman
Professor of Biology
Boston University Marine Program
Senior PI
Marine Management Area Science
Conservation International

Message: 2
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2010 11:30:19 -0800 (PST)
From: Martin Moe <martin_moe at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] question about the expanded listing of coral
To: Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>,
	coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Message-ID: <763932.83924.qm at web112113.mail.gq1.yahoo.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

Dear Gene,
Your recent post put words to many of my thoughts.
Basically, if you allow me a rough analogy, it doesn?t help much to  
put new
tires on a car if the motor is broken, except maybe to sell it. With a  
Florida coral reef, it
doesn?t help the reefs as a whole very much to monitor the decline,  
and set out
coral fragments if the ecology of the reef is broken. Now don?t get me  
it is critically important to do everything we can to learn about our  
reefs through
monitoring and science, and to do everything we can to enhance coral  
growth by
identifying resilient genotypes and putting them out on the reefs. But  
in the
long run, if you don?t fix the motor, the car won?t work, and if we  
don?t fix
the ecology, our coral reefs will continue to decline.

Back in 2001 Ken Nedimyer and I came to the same conclusion
but from different perspectives, that return of the urchin Diadema  
antillarum was
critical to restoration of the ecology of Florida?s coral reefs. We  
knew that this had
to be demonstrated, so we did a bare bones study, funded by FKNMS, on  
patch reefs off the Upper Keys, two experimental and two controls.  
translocation of juvenile Diadema from unstable rubble zones, we were  
able to
maintain populations of about 1 per sq. meter on the two experimental  
reefs for
a year. Benthic assessments were done on all four reefs before  
deployment of the
urchins and one year later. As you might expect, algae decreased and  

The results of this study are posted on the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary website.


We don?t know the future of our reefs; we can only do what
makes sense, and what is possible. The return of herbivory, restoring  
the historical
ecological balance between coral and algae growth is essential to a  
ecology on a coral reef. If this can be done, it would be the best  
thing I can
imagine to provide the coral reefs with the resilience to best  
withstand the
current and future problems that face our reefs. Algae and corals war  
for space
and light and without herbivory, algae wins. The return of the  
keystone herbivore,
Diadema antillarum, in ecologically functional and reproductively  
populations is our best, our only, proactive ecological measure we can  
for ecological restoration. Restoration of Diadema on selected, highly  
reefs would be the best start. And this can be done if we can mass  
produce in
hatcheries the thousands of Diadema that will be necessary, and then  
do the
research necessary to learn how to prepare them for survival on the  
reefs and
at what size. This can be done if we but make the effort. I have been
successful in developing the technology for mass production of Diadema  
to the early juvenile stage. Mass survival through the early juvenile  
stage and
into the stable early feeding juvenile remains to be accomplished, but  
the most
difficult aspects of the technology, larvae rearing, has been worked  
out. Mote
Marine Laboratory, the FWRI South Florida Regional Laboratory in  
Marathon, FL, and Tom Capo
at the University of Miami are working with
me to develop this technology to a functional level. It is important,  
that this effort continues because it represents the last, best hope  
for ecological
restoration of our Atlantic coral reefs. So far, funding has been  
barely adequate
for early development of the technology. Funding appropriate to the  
scope and significance
of the project is necessary.

Martin Moe

----- Original Message ----
From: Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Thu, February 25, 2010 12:23:11 PM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] question about the expanded listing of coral  

> My concerns about the CBDs proposed threatened coral species action
> certainly created some interest among list readers.  I had hoped
> that by discussing this issue someone would come forward and explain
> how the listing would save those species when listing of Acropora
> appeared to have done little. Like Eric Borneman, I wanted to know
> who and how the species were selected.  What I heard through the
> list responses was that "it would make people aware of the problem."
> Unfortunately that will not save any corals since they are not being
> collected or molested in any significant way. There really is no
> action that would change Caribbean-wide diseases and water quality
> issues in the short term. What worries me the most  is that the
> Florida Keys are already a marine sanctuary that protects all
> species of corals including those that are not included in the 82
> species.  Will having NMFS list them  save those in Florida? Maybe
> they are directing this listing outside of Florida? I think we are
> all aware that  If Co2 emissions were to cease tomorrow it might
> take about 50 years before atmospheric and sea water levels returned
> to pre industrial levels. If that's what is killing them (we really
> do not know what is killing them in the Caribbean) then they would
> already be dead by then.
> What we have heard from the CBD attorney on the list was a simply a
> legal explaination of their action. There was no suggestion as to
> how NMFS can save corals from storms, and a region wide
> disease/water quality problem. I did a little checking and found
> that the CBD has been very successful in badgering governments and
> using our tax money to do so. During its 20-year exisence CBD has
> wone close to 90 percent of its 500 cases! For more see the book
> "Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers and Millionaires Who Are Saving
> Our Planet." I asked the question earlier, "where do they get their
> funding" A little investigation revealed a lot. Here is a quote from
> Budd-Falen Law Offices of Cheyenne, Wyoming document, "Just between
> Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, New Mexico,
> and Washington, the CBD has amassed $6,709,467 in attorneys fees all
> paid by the taxpayers. That's a pretty good business. I will send
> the full statement to those who request it. For more about the
> attorneys and who makes CBD tick go to
> <http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/daily/opinion/113415.php> and finally
> for a lot of fun go to this site
> <http://www.endangeredspeciescondoms.com/> and learn about CBD birth
> control devices. I can't wait to order my Staghorn package. Gene PS:
> The tucsoncitizen website has been removed since I read it yesterday.
> --
> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
> ------------------------------------  
> -----------------------------------
> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
> University of South Florida
> Marine Science Center (room 204)
> 140 Seventh Avenue South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158----------------------------------
> -----------------------------------

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