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

Martin Moe martin_moe at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 31 10:00:47 EDT 2014

We, human beings that is, have developed a civilization thatis very rapidly, extremely rapidly according to the timeline of the naturalworld, destroying the natural ecology and ecosystems of this planet. I can seeabsolutely no way that this statement can be refuted. Like Alina, I can see noway that great negative changes in human civilization in the next 100 years canbe averted. I can only hope that somehow, someway, humanity can mitigate the intensityand extent of this looming disaster and learn to live within the  carrying capacity of our little planet. Herein South Florida and the Keys we have a population of almost 6 millionresidents and for the entire state of Florida there were 94,7 million visitorsin 2013, many of which came to South Florida and the Keys. Thankfully, the LoopCurrent in the Gulf and the Florida Current along the Keys and South Floridadisperses much of the effluent of our affluent society northward. But still thechemical effluent from the Mississippi to the Gulf of Maine pervades ourcoastal waters. For example, here in the USA we generate 290 million scraptires every year. Getting rid of these scrap tires is a problem, but there isanother problem that arises between the new tire and the scrap tire, and thatmay very well be a problem in itself here in South Florida. Maybe this isn’t asbig a problem as I think it could be. I’d be happy to find out that it isn’t. On storm watercontrol in the Keys, a red flag Is storm water control in the Keys really necessary? Afterall, It all runs off, or drains off, into the near shore waters eventually anyway. Well, there are two basicreasons to control storm water. First, and probably most apparent to Keysresidents is elimination of temporary flooding of low-lying roads and yards.And second and actually most important to Keys residents is elimination or atleast reduction of polluting nutrients and chemicals that find their way intoour near shore waters. Unfortunately, here in the Keys there is little we cando about pollutants in runoff water except collect it and somehow inject itdeep into the underground rock. And how contaminated can run off water be?Especially when you consider that It is greatly diluted by strong rains and the“water, water everywhere” environment of the Keys. I’ve become aware of thepotential contribution of automotive tires to this problem and it raises alarge red flag. There is an industry now that produces a product known ascrumb rubber. Basically it is ground up old automobile and truck tires (about12 million tires each year) for use as mulch, playgrounds, and surfacing forathletic fields. According to the Synthetic Turf Council, synthetic turf hasbeen installed in approximately 4,500 U.S. fields, tracks and playgrounds.Tires are not just rubber, there is a constellation of over 30 chemicals thatare incorporated into the structure of the rubber that composes the tires. Justto name a few; methylene chloride, lead, chromium, acetone, arsenic, benzene,cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, isoprene, mercury, methyl isobutyl ketone,naphthalene, nickel, phenol, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,styrene-butadiene, and toluene. Recently, school age soccer players have beencontracting various cancers, primarily non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and of 38 playerswith this cancer, 34 have been goalies, the position that is very often inaggressive contact with the crumb rubber playing surface. Some of the chemicalsin tires are known cancer causing compounds and known endocrine disruptors. The Keys connection? What happens to automobile and trucktires? They get worn out of course. And they get worn out because contact withthe road abrades the surface of the tire and wears it away until the tread iscompletely worn away and the tire needs to be replaced. And how many vehiclesgo up and down US 1 every day? How much tire rubber gets ground off tires onKeys roads? Eventually, however much it is, the rubber tire dust finds it wayinto the near shore waters, along with everything else that we discharge ontoour roads and grounds? How much thought and attention do we pay to what goesonto the roads and lands of the Keys and eventually contaminates our near shorewaters. So what, you might think, considering the volume of wateraround the Keys and the volumes of water that pass around and through the Keys,a little bit of chemical waste is washed away and can’t hurt anything. Not so.For one thing there is the phenomenon of permanent, temporary pollution. Apollutant may be temporary because it either breaks down (and often thebreakdown products are as toxic or more so than the original chemical) or isflushed away; however, if this pollutant is released into the environment everyday, the even though it is “temporary”, it is actually permanent because it isalways present in the environment and it’s effects are permanent to the healthof the environment. My work, and the work of Dave Vaughan at the Summerland MoteTropical Research Laboratory on sea urchin (Diadema) culture in regard toecological restoration of our coral reefs, has made us acutely aware of thepossibility of endocrine disruptive and toxic metallic compounds in the nearshore and ground waters of the Keys. Sea urchin larvae are very vulnerable tosuch toxins in extremely low concentrations.. And there are many chemicals andmany marine organisms that are variably susceptible to such toxins. We do notknow what chemicals might be present in our waters, at what concentrations, atwhat times, and what the effects of these chemicals might be, but there are anumber of “smoking guns” that indicate that problems exist. The first step in confronting such a problem is not todisregard it because “nothing can be done about it”; the first step is toresearch it carefully so that the parameters and the extent of the problem isknown, and then develop a proper response from a standpoint of scientificknowledge. Storm water runoff from roads and lands may be of greatersignificance to the environmental health of our near shore waters than wecurrently realize, and even though there is a lot on our plate at present, weneed to keep storm water analysis, control, and dispersal in our futureplanning. Martin Moe 

     On Thursday, October 30, 2014 8:56 AM, Sue Wells <suewells1212 at gmail.com> wrote:

 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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