[Coral-List] Stop Belize offshore drilling

Belize Marine TREC trec at hotmail.com
Mon May 2 13:48:13 EDT 2011

I would like to hear the thoughts of other coral list members concerning 
Eugen Shinn's response to the danger of oil drilling along the second longest
barrier reef in the world.  Here are some of mine.
1. Thank you for forwarding the article on oil exploration in Florida.
2. I can't really say that I appreciate being referred to as "hysterical and emotional" -
lets keep your personal judgments out of it and stick to the facts.
3. Your work refers to exploration only - oil has been found inland in Belize making it
quite possible that it will be found off shore.  The impact of oil extraction and a possible oil 
spill is not even touched upon and of course this is what we fear.
4. Your work looks at the impact on corals only.  I did not state that exploration would lead to an impact
that the reef would not recover from but rather that "Belize would not recover from".  Belize is a small country.
Its reputation in tourism would be seriously injured by an oil spill, to say nothing of the other habitats and communities of
organisms like mangroves.  We are presently being threatened will the loss of our United Nations World Heritage site designation.
5. The contracts for exploration have not been granted to stellar companies that take every possible precaution and have
impeccable safety records like "BP".  They have been granted to companies with no experience in oil exploration and no resources
to deal with a spill.  This is not the U.S.  We do not have the regulations to minimize the chance of oil spills.
6. I'm surprised you didn' say, "Drill, baby, Drill" - the recent outcry in the U.S. to decrease gas prices.  As has been proved in the 
past -oil is a world wide commodity.  Increased domestic oil production does nothing to decrease the price.  It did nothing when 
Belize struck oil on land either and we have seen this by experience.  It also did not produce many jobs since the drillers brought 
people in from outside the country.
7.  Tourism and fishing make up a large percentage of our GDP.  Anyone who thinks an oil spill will not irreparably damage Belize does 
not know this country.  I am surprised and saddened to find such an attitude on the Coral list.   

Dr. K.C. Mattes
> From: coral-list-request at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: Coral-List Digest, Vol 33, Issue 2
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Date: Mon, 2 May 2011 12:00:02 -0400
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> Today's Topics:
> 1. Status of Bonaire coral reefs (Sander Scheffers)
> 2. Help Ban Oil Exploration on the Belize Barrier Reef.
> (Eugene Shinn)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Sun, 1 May 2011 09:21:38 +1000
> From: Sander Scheffers <sander.scheffers at scu.edu.au>
> Subject: [Coral-List] Status of Bonaire coral reefs
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Message-ID: <97FA8D45-7412-4533-8AE8-A022E6E60D01 at scu.edu.au>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
> Dear colleagues,
> Following up on the IUCN report of the Bonaire Marine Park, I would like to draw your attention to a recently published article in Bulletin of Marine Science: 
> "Coral community decline at Bonaire, Southern Caribbean" 
> Website: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/umrsmas/bullmar/pre-prints/8737;jsessionid=3qmvimw0g0nli.alice
> Abstract:
> We assessed the status of coral reef benthic communities at Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, in December 2008 and January 2009 through aprox 5 km of photo transects taken at depths of 5, 10, and 20 m at 14 locations around the island. Univariate and multivariate analyses detected significant variation in benthic communities among depths and locations, as well as between leeward and windward sides of the island. Mean percentage cover of scleractinian corals ranged between 0.2 percent and 43.6 percent at the study sites and tended to be lowest at 5-m depth. The survey recorded 40 scleractinian coral species from 19 genera, within 10 families. Faviidae were by far the most abundant scleractinian family at all depths (predominantly Montastraea spp.), followed by Agariciidae at 20 and 10 m, and by Astrocoeniidae at 5-m depth. Macroalgal cover exceeded scleractinian coral cover at nearly all sites, averaging 34.9 percent (all samples pooled), compared with a pooled mean coral cover o
> f 15.4 percent. Windward reefs were characterized by prolific growth of the brown algae Sargassum spp., and leeward reefs by growth of turf algae, Dictyota spp., Trichogloeopsis pedicellata (Howe) I. A. Abbott and Doty, and Lobophora variegata (Lamouroux) Womersley ex Oliveira. Damage from recent hurricanes was evident from the presence of toppled and fragmented corals, the movement of sand, and exposure of cemented Acropora cervicornis (Lamarck, 1816) rubble on the shallow reef platform. The combination of algal dominance and low to moderate coral cover are symptomatic of partly degraded reef systems, particularly as they coincide with elevated nutrients and reduced herbivory. 
> Regards,
> Sander
> Dr Sander Scheffers
> Lecturer & Senior Research Fellow Southern Cross University
> Honorary Research Fellow University of Queensland 
> Deputy Director Southern Cross Marine Science, 
> Associate Researcher Caribbean Research Institute for Management of Biodiversity (CARMABI), Cura?ao (Netherlands Antilles)
> Southern Cross University
> PO Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia
> Email: sander.scheffers at scu.edu.au
> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Sun, 1 May 2011 13:18:16 -0400
From: Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
> Subject: [Coral-List] Help Ban Oil Exploration on the Belize Barrier
> Reef.
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Message-ID: <a0623090bc9e345ca9402@[]>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ; format="flowed"
> "offshore drilling in Belize will lead to an environmental disaster 
> from which Belize will never recover."
> Now that is as hysterical and emotional as it can get! It would be 
> good to get your facts in order before making such knee-jerk 
> reactions. Several wells have already been drilled along the Belize 
> shelf during the 1960s and 1970s and there were no "disasters" other 
> than the fact that they did not find any oil.
> It would be good to know if they (who ever they are) are planning 
> deep water drilling or shallow water drilling as was done there in 
> the past? It makes a big difference. Of course actual discovery of 
> oil might have a large impact. It could bring big bucks and jobs to a 
> relatively poor country and hopefully bring down the cost of fuel. 
> You can be sure that no one is going to drill right on top of a coral 
> reef. What does a gallon of gasoline costs in Belize? I assume it is 
> all transported there in tankers which is well known to be the 
> largest source of oil pollution in the oceans worldwide. Gene
> -- 
> -- 
> 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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