[Coral-List] Listing Criteria Observation
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.
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
> "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 <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.
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
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" <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
On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 8:26 AM, Jon Skrapits
<jon at treasurecoastcorals.com> wrote:
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 <sealab at earthlink.net>
> 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.
> -----Original Message-----
> >From: Jon Skrapits **
> >Sent: Dec 18, 2012 10:24 AM
> >To: 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
> >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
> >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
> >How about elevated levels of nitrates?(does it even affect them?)
> >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
> >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.
> >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
> >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
> >if they are still alive.
> >Coral-List mailing list
> >Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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