[Coral-List] Why we are failing to repair coral reefs

Sue Wells suewells1212 at gmail.com
Thu Oct 30 06:01:56 EDT 2014

Peter's very good article in ISRS's newsletter Reef Encounter on what can be
done for coral reefs and the subsequent discussion have been very timely.  


In Peter's recent post, he mentions the effectiveness - or not - of MPAs for
coral reefs.  There is now a rapidly growing literature reflecting the
strenuous efforts around the world to improve MPA management.  This is still
very far from perfect, but I think we have moved on from the 1990s, when
Graeme Kelleher and others (myself included) reviewed the status of MPAs and
came to the rather gloomy conclusion about their management as cited by
Peter.  Next month, the World Parks Congress takes place in Sydney
http://worldparkscongress.org/, at which  many of the initiatives to create
well-managed MPAs, including those for coral reefs, will be presented and
debated under the leadership of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas -
Marine.  There will be sessions on effective protected area management, on
scientifically sound methods for assessing this, and on incentive schemes to
promote good management.   Managing an MPA effectively is far from easy as
many readers of the Coral List will know - in my experience, creating a new
MPA is often much easier and leads to more publicity and media attention,
than the long hard slog of managing one well.  


In his article, Peter is also right that MPAs are not the only tool for
long-term management and that we need more, broader, integrated approaches
such as Marine Spatial Planning.  This approach is also growing rapidly -
for example, UNESCO has just launched a new guide:


Whether we can get good management in place fast enough to prevent their
decline is another matter, but the tools are being made available to help us
do this.


And I would like to support Alina in her posts about population size, and
also consumption which I think has to be linked with this if we are to have
an equitable world.  We absolutely have to be aware of this.  In the UK,
many conservationists are supporting organisations working on this (e.g.
http://www.populationmatters.org/) - that is something we can all do.


In the spirit of not wanting to give up just yet, best wishes,


Sue Wells

95 Burnside

Cambridge CB1 3PA

Mob: 07905 715552

e-mail: suewells1212 at gmail.com



Message: 5

Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:58:15 -0400

From: Peter Sale < <mailto:sale at uwindsor.ca> sale at uwindsor.ca>

Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Why we are failing to repair coral reefs

To:  <mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov,
<mailto:gbustamante09 at gmail.com> gbustamante09 at gmail.com


<mailto:OFDEB246F7.B0AB4277-ON85257D7F.006D6C12-85257D7F.006DB65C at uwindsor.c
a> OFDEB246F7.B0AB4277-ON85257D7F.006D6C12-85257D7F.006DB65C at uwindsor.ca>


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Georgina, and coral-liat,

Just a quick response to your plea for positive messages. 


There is an amazingly positive message that we can deliver, that has largely
gone neglected.  That is that local effort addressing local causes of reef
degradation have positive effects, and may even bolster the capacity of the
reef system to withstand the effects of climate change by making the reef
community more resilient.  There is no reason to give up on reducing fishing
pressure where reefs are overfished (nearly everywhere), reducing pollution,
and channelling coastal development in environmentally sustainable
directions.  All these actions will reduce the pressures on reefs which
cause much of the degradation presently seen. 


My earlier post to coral list was a call on us (the scientists and

managers) to stop being complacent, comfortable with small-scale, temporary
improvements in reef condition, and be willing to talk about our failures
and work harder for real successes.  As one clear piece of evidence of the
complacency, I suggest we need look no further than the numerous 'paper'
MPAs that exist on reefs.  When Graeme Kellerher first coined the term
'paper park' in approx 1990, some 90% of MPAs were effectively unprotected.
In the 25 years since, I doubt the 90% has been very much reduced.  Yet if
just half the unprotected protected areas were to become protected, it would
vastly expand the area of reef under real protection.  Why have we turned a
blind eye for so long, and why are we not now collectively demanding better
performance by each of us and by others? 


There is lots of room for optimism about the fact that we can do something
for reefs.  There is unfortunately room for pessimism that, until now, we
don't seem to care enough.  Getting younger people motivated to show us up
as the relatively poor performers we have been would be a great achievement,
and is a very positive step. 


Good luck,

Peter Sale 


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