[Coral-List] reef restoration at Majuro airport

Dean Jacobson atolldino at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 21 23:10:40 EDT 2011


This week, taking advantage of calm weather,  I photographed a reef by the Majuro airport fire station, an FAA-funded reclamation that resulted in the suction dredging of a large Porites reef.   The rather spectacular "fisheye" photomosaic I constructed can be viewed on my Flickr page (file name: dredge pan1, or acct name: "atolldino").

The scene is one of utter devastation, a wasteland of coral rubble (as one would expect)..  In three years there has been negligible coral recruitment; there is almost no fish present, as you can see.  

This got my blood boiling a bit, and I felt a strong need to organize a restoration effort.  There are lots of Acropora muricata colonies in the lagoon that could be carefully, with restraint, fragmented and planted here, cemented (or nailed with Tygon tubing) onto "bedrock" surfaces.   I don't know if FAA or the contractor PII could be convinced to pay for this, so I am requesting suggestions of where to get funding (for Z-spar epoxy, boat time, etc.). 

While PII has been lambasting me for killing jobs (where the "jobs=coral destruction" equation came from, I don't know!  Ask FAA!).  I am told that many support my intervention.  Thanks again for the support I received from the List.

Meanwhile, PII is planning to mine the entire lagoon shoreline between the airport and the water reservoir, for revetment rock and fill for that old airport extension project.  This is around a kilometer of reef flat.  Crazy!  The resulting borrow pits will not only increase storm vulnerability, it produces enormous amounts of fine sediments that enter the water column in even calm conditions and will spoil near-shore lagoon visibility forever.   I am pushing for a rational switch to extraction of deeper lagoon sediments (an unlimited supply exists), but our island lacks the forward-looking leadership to make this happen.  A public hearing on this is scheduled this Tuesday.

Dean Jacobson
College of the Marshall Islands

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