[Coral-List] Reef destruction on Majuro

Dean Jacobson atolldino at yahoo.com
Sat Feb 25 04:02:13 EST 2012


Thanks for your interest. No recent excavations have yet occurred near the airport, (since I helped bring the planned work at the western end to a halt) other than the mid-runway Fire station reef flat mining (which were coral-rich) and the suction dredging of the subtidal reef (much larger than a football field and even more coral rich!) back in 2008 for the FAA-funded ARFF project in violation of Executive Order 13089, and which deserves restoration.  (An image of this site on Google Earth from 2009, not available online any longer, shows large sediment plumes from the reef mining, unconstrained by the ineffective silt curtain, which had holes I could, and did, swim through.  Silt curtains here are never inspected by regulators, as the coastal observers from RMIEPA almost never get in the water, even with snorkel gear. They are just for show.  The small ocean-side reef flat quarry holes you mentioned were blasted in 2001 (I could here the blasts
 from my home 4-5 km to the east) and I have been monitoring coral growth and fish diversity there since 2002, and also removing the odd Crown of Thorns (lots of CLOD, coralline algae lethal disease here, BTW).

You remind me that I intended earlier this week to put my ARFF suction dredge (during and after) images in a picture set on my Flickr page.  Right now you can google "Flickr airport reef" or "runway reef" and see most of my images, and in an hour or so you will also be able to find my "fire station reef" set, featuring some spectacular fish-eye photo mosaics of the post-dredging devastation.  The company which did this mining, PII, is without doubt behind efforts to have me deported from the RMI.

Another thought:
I recently ran into a paper on the importance of very shallow coastal habitat for juvenile reef fish, such as is found along the shoreline opposite the water reservoirs and which is due to be dredged, and it echos a concern I have had on Majuro: I notice that juvenile scarids, labrids, etc. are found exclusively in the most shallow near shore reefs, where I imagine they are relatively safe from predation.  These habitats, which include coral rich areas and sites were only algae-(Padina) decorated rubble is found, feature a great many of these fish, but many such sites have already been dredged or destroyed by reclamation in Majuro lagoon.  Beyond the narrow fringing reef one mostly finds sand, unsuitable fish habitat (except for shrimp blennies and a few others).  Just because a site is not covered with coral doesn't mean it is not important, an error I made in writing an EIA for a dredging project in Uliga some years ago.

If anyone would like an illustrated time-line of the issue of shore-based reef mining on Majuro, which I sent to the Coral Reef Task Force, I would be happy to provide it.  Just send me a request.


----- Original Message -----
From: Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2012 7:01 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] Reef destruction on Majuro

I Google Earthed the Majuro  airport (2012 image) and see an 
excavation to the west of the runway on the lagoon side as well as 
what appears to be an older excavation on the reef flat to the south 
facing the open ocean. Elsewhere there are panoramic views. It might 
help if there were spherical panoramas of the digging area in 
question. It might help your cause if we could actually see the 
excavation site at ground level and determine if it is reef flat (as 
in coral limestone) or live reef being excavated. Gene

No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158---------------------------------- 
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