[Coral-List] Listing Criteria Observation

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 19 15:36:40 EST 2012

   I would imagine that someone directly affiliated with NOAA would be better
   able to respond to all of your concerns, but rest assured that the proposed
   listing is not yet finalized and that public's input is encouraged. You are
   correct  to  assume that simply listing coral species as endangered or
   threatened will not save them, but the proposal includes an assessment of
   the various threats and if a coral species is in fact listed, there would
   have to be a plan developed for recovery with the goal in mind of eventual
   If I were you I would ask someone directly involved about the potential
   impact of ESA listing on aquaculture. There is no reason to assume that NOAA
   considers aquaculture an enemy. In fact they have a section on their website
   that promotes efforts like yours.
   In addition, there is quite a bit of information available that explains the
   proposed ESA listing in greater detail.

     -----Original Message-----
     From: Jon Skrapits
     Sent: Dec 19, 2012 2:20 PM
     To: Steve Mussman
     Cc: Doug Fenner , "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"
     Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Listing Criteria Observation
     Steve and Dr. Szmant,
     Is government intervention founded to save the reefs? Are listed species
     in FL on the rebound?
     I understand that certain animals would benefit by restrictions but I
     don't  believe  this  is  the  case  with  coral.  If over fishing,
     eutrophication,  global  warming,  marine ornamental harvest, ocean
     acidification, and other debated causes are the problem then how will
     keeping the corals in the ocean save them? Just as if our environment was
     declining due to slowly elevating carbon monoxide levels or something
     else(imagine), staying here would only seal our slow fate. Some would die
     before others but staying here wouldn't be an option unless we reversed
     the trend which could take decades and by that point we could be extinct.
     If the ESA passes the proposed restrictions how would the FWC or any other
     governing authority determine if the species in front of them is legal or
     not? How will they determine if it was aquacultured or not? Aquaculture is
     a friend to preserving the reefs. Need me to send you a clipping from one
     of my 600 species for studying? Or should I hire a Dr. to write articles
     to  gain legitimacy on what is observed daily with the corals in my
     facility? Does a dive show the same data upon observing a wild reef that I
     have learned from my grown reef? It is much more intimate and species
     specific on land since I don't have to hold my breath. Granted, the
     conditions are not the same as in the wild but that does not mean data is
     totally worthless. I have specimens that I have farmed for years that are
     bulletproof and other that are very fragile. I see valid points in all
     arguments for the mentioned issues destroying the reefs yet I can see
     where they can be incorrect from the work I do. Not all scholarly articles
     are 100% accurate over time. If they were the reefs would be rebounding
     from the years of agreed upon articles that are 100% accurate stating how
     to save the reefs. There would also be zero disagreement about the causes
     of why corals are dying.
     Furthermore, what gives the government or anyone the right to restrict
     something when we aren't 100% sure of the causes or how we are going to
     fix the causes? Maybe the cause and solution haven't been found yet? I
     have seen many corals show signs of die off while next to other corals
     that  are 100% healthy. Then they rebound and do fine while nothing
     apparent has changed. I have also kept pieces of Acropora for years with
     no problem and thought they were bulletproof only to look at them in the
     morning and they have lost all tissue for no apparent reason. Predation is
     not an option since I quarantine and treat for any predators. I can saw
     corals in half and they beg for more yet a slight swing in temp can do
     them in.
     Dr. Szmant,
     > "Can we please get back to real science and have some quality control
     > what information is broadly disseminated?"
     Apologies for not using only scholarly articles. I didn't realize we were
     being graded in this classroom. Also, the reefs need the average person
     reading articles they can understand to become aware of the problems
     encouraging them to get involved. Peer reviewed will not accomplish this.
     The internet makes the average person "smarter" since there is access to
     anything you want to learn.
     The point of sharing the link was to show that there are findings in a
     peer reviewed article cited by the NY Times(albeit poor science in the
     Times article) that supports aquaculture as a sustainable means for the
     aquarium  industry. Why not use aquaculture for studying coral in a
     laboratory as well and why not teach indigenous islanders to mariculture?
     Couldn't we harvest and re-populate the reefs infinitely once we find the
     cure for the die off?
     Nevertheless, your point was well taken and it won't happen again. We are
     both trying to help.

   On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 12:28 PM, Steve Mussman <[1]sealab at earthlink.net>

   It  is  understandable that you have trepidation regarding regulations
   affecting  your  business  interests,  but  to suggest that government
   intervention  will  likely  worsen  the  problem  as it relates to the
   sustainability of our coral reefs I believe is unfounded. There are many
   examples of regulations that have been enacted involving marine ecosystems
   and  fisheries  that  in  fact have proven beneficial to all including
   commercial  interests.  It  is  also true that initially many of these
   restrictions  were  met with opposition only to be later recognized as
   effective and restorative. At the risk of Gene telling me that I'm sounding
   like Karl Marx, total opposition to all regulation is not the approach taken
   by most responsible businesses and many industries have come to recognize
   that  a  growing  and sustainable economy requires a sophisticated and
   strategic partnership between government and the private sector.

   -----Original Message-----
   From: Jon Skrapits 

   Sent: Dec 18, 2012 6:04 PM
   To: Douglas Fenner 
   Cc: coral list , Steve Mussman 
   Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Listing Criteria Observation

     Hey Doug,

     You keep referring to the tragedy of the commons dilemma. One particular
     case of this was our early settlers. They almost didn't make it due to
     public ownership of land and resources.

     How did they fix it? Elinor Ostrom suggested that non local or gov.
     Intervention would worsen this problem and that local people are better
     suited to solve this. Mariculture is a great means towards sustainability
     for the aquarium trade and for the indigenous people. What I fear is that
     regulations such as these cause problems down the road when more species
     of coral die since the ocean is in decline as a desirable coral habitat.
     That is, more regulations because the first round didn't work. This is
     always how gov. Operates. It never gets rid of regulations. Plus, how will
     the gov ensure that no banned species are in aquariums after the ban? What
     about pre-ban acquisitions? Will it be illegal to possessing them? If so,
     I  am throwing my stuff in the Atlantic. You see.... There are many
     externalities that would arise. Gov. Good intentions usually produce bad

     Anyone know the answer to this?
     Is Apal and Acer on the rebound since being listed? If the FL Keys  were
     suitable for them to thrive they wouldn't need human help via propagation
     once banned from harvest. They would thrive beyond belief. Much like a
     nuisance coral in an aquarium that is left un-fragmented. Unless I inject
     one of the man made problems we can't seem to agree upon as the main
     problem for reefs declining.

     I believe there is no regulation or cultural change that is on the live to
     slow the decline of our reefs. Even if there was, it would still take a
     decade or more to see any positive benefit. If I am right, choose your
     regulations or education of people wisely.

   On Dec 18, 2012 5:18 PM, "Douglas Fenner" <[2]douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>

   The restrictions imposed by ESA (Endangered Species Act) on imported corals
   will only affect those listed out of the 66 species proposed, out of over
   790  reef  coral species in the world.  The other 724+ species will be
   unaffected.  How does that make it so that studies of coral aquaculture
   can't be done??  This proposed ESA listing also doesn't affect the many
   other reef species that are imported which can be aquacultured, such as
   fish, invertebrates, etc.
   I continue to disagree with the view that exploitation of wild species will
   cause the exploiters to value the natural ecosystem.  The incentive is in
   fact to exploit, not protect.  Fisheries are a great example of this, the
   economic incentive is to fish until it is no longer profitable to fish.  In
   other  words,  fish  until  there  are  so few fish left that they are
   economically extinct (though not biologically extinct).  Collecting corals
   is a fishery, like collecting (=catching) tuna or any other fish.  The
   Status Report on the 82 species petitioned points out that collecting for
   the aquarium trade is one of the more minor threats to these species, as it
   surely is.  But all mortality contributes to the decline of a species.
   I suggest that non-consumptive uses have a greater incentive for conserving
   natural ecosystems than exploitation, particularly when the use depends on
   high quality ecosystem.  Diving can fit that bill, when divers can tell the
   difference between living and dead reef, and because they love really big
   fish, and lots of fish.  Aquaculture does have the potential to avoid the
   exploitation of wild stocks, which would be good.  I am told that at least
   in the past, some or many aquaculture projects actually were grow-outs,
   where wild corals continued to be collected, broken into fragments which
   were then grown and exported.  The advantage of aquarium-grown corals in the
   country where the coral is sold is that no additional wild collecting is
   Does  anybody  have a reference to the "new study" referred to in this
   Cheers,  Doug
   On    Tue,    Dec    18,    2012    at    8:26    AM,   Jon   Skrapits
   <[3]jon at treasurecoastcorals.com> wrote:

     Agreed Steve,
     I was being sarcastic about the parrot and trying to show that they are a
     benefit but at a quick glance it may seem as though they are destructive.
     Check this out.
     How can we develop scientific studies on the benefits of aquaculture if we
     never pursue that avenue due to restrictions.

   On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 2:21 PM, Steve Mussman <[5]sealab at earthlink.net>
   > Jon,
   > In response to your side note:

     > **

   > "If limiting actions that deplete the ocean such as
   > harvesting coral to grow it, then why aren't we destroying parrot fish
   > eat the coral? I blame them for the destruction of the reef".
   > A paper by the Universities of Exeter and California Davis, published
   > November 1, 2007 in Nature explains that Parrotfish are now the sole
   > grazers of seaweed on many Caribbean reefs, but fishing has limited their
   > numbers. With insufficient Parrotfish grazing, corals are unable to
   > recover after major disturbances like hurricanes and become much less
   > healthy as a result. The paper argues that in order to secure a future
   > for coral reefs, particularly in light of the predicted impact of climate
   > change, Parrotfish need to be protected. The good news is that we can
   > take practical steps to protect Parrotfish and help reef regeneration. We
   > recommend a change in policy to establish controls over the use of fish
   > traps, which Parrotfish are particularly vulnerable to. We also call on
   > anyone who visits the Caribbean and sees Parrotfish on a restaurant menu
   > voice their concern to the management.
   > This research was published in Nature: vol 450, issue 7166.
   > Regards,
   >   Steve
   > -----Original Message-----

   > >From: Jon Skrapits **
   > >Sent: Dec 18, 2012 10:24 AM
   > >To: [6]coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   > >Subject: [Coral-List] Listing Criteria Observation
   > >
   > >I looked over the criteria the best I could. I apologize if I
   > misunderstood
   > >but it seems as though the driving factor for determining the listing of
   > >coral is by counting the number of animals distributed in an ecosystem.
   > >Then many different hypotheses are thrown out to state a personal case or
   > >blame a general global phenomenon or "problem." I never heard more
   > specific
   > >questions such as these.
   > >
   > >What does an acropora(or other corals) look like when it is subjected to
   > >low pH?
   > >How about inadequate flow?(How can a fragmentation survive if you place
   > >improperly?)
   > >How about elevated levels of nitrates?(does it even affect them?)
   > >Phosphates?
   > >Insufficient calcium levels?
   > >What about the overall chemistry of seawater when Magnesium is low?
   > >Temp fluctuations?
   > >Effects of a changing ecosystem causing a lack of food for corals?
   > >Do corals really need fish or is it the other way around?( I have many
   > >systems w/out fish and pleny of corals)
   > >
   > >These and many other questions must be answered every hour in aquaculture
   > >and guessing wrong causes mass deaths in some cases. Much can be learned
   > >from this.
   > >
   > >
   > >On a side note.... If limiting actions that deplete the ocean such as
   > >harvesting coral to grow it, then why aren't we destroying parrot fish
   > that
   > >eat the coral? I blame them for the destruction of the reefs.
   > >
   > >As I have said many times, gov. regulation will only kill the reefs.
   > Making
   > >it a profitable venture will save them. Educate not regulate. If we can't
   > >agree on what is killing the reefs and change our habits, the ocean will
   > >not improve and the corals will sit on the reef awaiting their demise.
   > >the oceans improving? What are we doing to improve that? Just ban
   > >havesting? That is the answer? I will collect as many species as possible
   > >to have a genetic pool of hearty corals that have been through
   > fluctuations
   > >and hopefully one day I can help or my kids can help to replant the
   > >I will watch the rest of mankind squabble over what they think is the
   > >problem as it worsens. Maybe we will knock off parrot fish as a last
   > resort
   > >if they are still alive.
   > >
   > >
   > >--
   > >Thanks,
   > >_______________________________________________
   > >Coral-List mailing list
   > >[7]Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   > >[8]http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

     > **

   Coral-List mailing list
   [9]Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

   Dept. Marine & Wildlife Resources, American Samoan Government
   PO Box 7390
   Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA



   1. mailto:sealab at earthlink.net
   2. mailto:douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
   3. mailto:jon at treasurecoastcorals.com
   4. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/finding-a-place-for-coral-farms-in-a-changing-ocean/
   5. mailto:sealab at earthlink.net
   6. mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa..gov
   7. mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   8. http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
   9. mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
  10. http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

More information about the Coral-List mailing list