[Coral-List] The Saga of Dean Jacobson and Majuro Coral Mining (Jim Hendee)

Carly Kenkel carly.kenkel at gmail.com
Fri Mar 14 14:26:37 EDT 2014

Dear Coral-Listers,

I feel compelled to write in support of Dean Jacobson and his attempts to
raise awareness concerning the impending doom of reefs in Majuro. I had the
pleasure of meeting Dean in 2010 when I spent a few weeks in the US
Marshall Islands sampling corals as part of NOAA funded project aimed at
evaluating genetic connectivity of Acroporids across Micronesia.  Dean was
kind enough to introduce me to the local reefs and share some of his work
documenting reef diversity in the region.

The fragile status of reefs in and around Majuro are a conservation
biologist's worst nightmare. Majuro and Arno contain some of the most
striking atolls I have ever seen. The structure of these reefs is
breathtaking and though far from pristine, there are coral species on these
island that I have never seen anywhere else, such as the super-rare
"elkhorn" coral that made headlines a few years ago (
However, these islands are also some of the most impoverished in
Micronesia, combining the worst attributes of a US-funded welfare state
with a social structure that places all the wealth and power in the hands
of a corrupt minority.

While I'm sure the Marshallese care about their home, reef conservation
will always take a backseat to feeding their families. There are
individuals and organizations involved in conservation efforts in Majuro.
However, I witnessed as members of a conservation organization on Majuro
turned a blind eye to a massive female turtle when she rolled onto the dock
in Arno, filling the bed of a truck, belly up. She was caught while digging
a nest on the beach and destined to be the prime delicacy at a birthday
cook-out back on Majuro.

Given Dean's experience and my own observations, I do not think local
efforts to prevent dredging are capable of success.  However, the Marshall
Islands are a US protectorate, and clearly the FAA and EPA have some
control over this project. I know people who read this listserv have
connections to policy makers in the US.  As Dr. Hendee pointed out, more
can be done. If you are able, please take the time to make inquiries about
the runway extension project at Majuro. I believe our combined efforts can
make an impact.



Carly Kenkel
PhD Candidate
Dept of Integrative Biology
The Univ of Texas at Austin
carly.kenkel at gmail.com
office: 512-475-6424
cell: 623-910-2394

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