[Coral-List] Happy Birthday Coral-List, Politics

IUCN Barbara Gratzer barbaragratzer at gmail.com
Fri May 23 14:58:14 EDT 2014

Dear all, 

Thank you, Jim, for this post. Yesterday I spoke to a friend about this mail-match, we ended up debating whether 8000 members in the coral list is a lot or much too little to make a change. 
Despite some general arguments about what is going to happen when, we all agree that corals are declining and somehow coral reefs as they are now will not survive (whether they will shift to different community compositions, whether certain species will adopt, whether we will loose them all -  we can find evidences for one or the other - but we will not know until the time has come). So roughly 8000 people who potentially know this is going to happen within the next 30 - 50 years from now. Probably a few thousand people more know about the importance of our oceans. 

Let me quickly give you an impression of my work before I want to ask you one question. 
I am currently working as a Marine Biologist in Maldives, one out of about 40. Most of us are paid by resorts (about 110 so far). Our job is so busy sometimes that we could easily give work to another 4 or 5 people on the island - it never stops. Guest education, hospitality, staff awareness, local islands that urgently need more education, accessibility to resources, vision, understanding, monitoring, coral nurseries, turtle hatcheries, shark counting, fish landing protocols, etc. 
20 years of marine biology in Maldives and still there is a rubbish island, still every local island dumps the sewage, the entire organic waste (about a ton per day from one resort only), and what ever is available into the ocean. And guests are complaining. The reefs look different, they say. Some - travelling to Maldives since 20 years - do not want to come back. Additionally to the bleaching events in the past (1997/98, 2010) we are currently waiting for another potential mass bleaching due to El Niño. 
The Government picked it up and is very much aware. There are marine biology classes in schools, rubbish bins in Male’ city, a waste solution plan, shark programmes to keep up the shark finning ban, different NGO’s come to work with the Government to beat the drums of awareness. And yet, it is so difficult to make a change. 

So we can see our options through different perceptions and most of them have already been mentioned: we could become guerrilla-fighters on the streets, we could try to influence politicians, we could go to conferences, TV shows and start speaking up, we could continue research - for climate change, for basic knowledge, for medicine. Everything is important. But if we actually start speaking up,  what do we actually say? 

Whenever there is a crisis people react in 4 different ways: They put their head in the sand, they run, they fight with a gun or they start communicating. 

This is my impression. Everyone says something different. We are like scared up hens in a stud. This is not how we convince others to believe in us. 
What can actually be done fast enough and who is willing to do it? There are already enough scientists, who have calculated that the expenses Governments would have to bare now for adjusting environmental standards, would be a lot less than what we all would need to invest if climate change really kicks in, if we really loose coral reefs, etc. 
As a countries Government there is so little you can do fast enough. There is no way you can generate a pool of awareness that is large enough to make a difference within the next 5-10 years, you can also not change sewage plants, fishermen’s thinking, private stakeholder’s greed within such a short amount of time. Who is paying for developing countries if they don’t even have proper medicine? Who start thinking about the grand children if the children are hungry? 

I agree with Jim that it is now time to start talking about what we actually could do. But first we have to identify what we all want to say, or am I wrong? 


On May 23, 2014, at 16:53, Jim Hendee <jim.hendee at noaa.gov> wrote:

> On this day 19 years ago, Coral-List began with about 100 members. 
> Today our numbers are 8,129.  I wonder why, out of all these people who
> appreciate and help to save coral reefs, there are mostly only a handful
> who contribute on a regular basis.  Speak up!
> As I reflect on the recent thread of politics and coral reef
> conservation, and some of us hammering each other, I can't help but
> notice what many already see as obvious, that we have met the enemy, and
> he is us (thank you Walt Kelly).  For some reason I let these personal
> attacks go on longer than I should have, but maybe it helps to clear the
> air.
> But now, can we (including myself) tone down the rancor a bit  and try
> to come up with some constructive steps we can implement to reduce coral
> reef decline?
> Thank you, and I hope you all have a nice weekend.
>    Your Coral-List Administrators,
>    Jim Hendee
>    Mike Jankulak
>    Lew Gramer
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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