[Coral-List] New (old) way to murder a coral reef

John McManus jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Thu Apr 16 15:45:29 EDT 2015

I think it is safe to say that most of the more than 100 nations with
control over coral reefs have done substantial damage to those reefs in that
past. Thus, most of the people on this list live in 'glass houses'.  That
should not inhibit our efforts to bring those problems to light and to seek

We really have to keep the issues in each area distinct. I see no benefit in
weighing one form of damage in one area to another form of damage in

I don't have at hand any estimations of damage by type done at Diego Garcia,
but those should certainly be brought forward. Presumably there are reports
from people involved in surveys there. If any of those are open to the
public, it would be very helpful to know of them. 

With regard to the Spratly Island reefs, I am hopeful that someone will be
more successful than I have been in obtaining funds to monitor the situation
quantitatively via satellite imagery. From the limited information currently
available at http://amti.csis.org/, it is clear that the new artificial
islands will obliterate several square kilometers (several millions of
square meters) of lagoon and reef flat ecosystems, and that the combination
of spillage damage from sand being dredged up and that being lost to erosion
from the islands will multiply that impact several times and extend it to
reef crests and slopes. This raises the concern that such damage will both
negatively impact the local and regional fishery resources which are
currently among the priority issues in the disputes, as well as reduce the
likelihood that the atolls will be able to keep up with rising sea level
over the next century. Of course, if these atolls fall below sea level to
the point that the reef crests no longer break waves, a period of more
massive die-offs associated with the large volumes of eroded sand will
likely be followed by a long recovery with far less disturbance from human
beings -- who will have little left on which to build. Outside of waiting a
century or so for that to happen, many of us see the best solution to rest
in a Spratly Island Peace Park. This would be based on a renewable treaty
specifying a freeze on claims and claimant activities, and a program of
international cooperation in environmental management.   

There needs to be transparency in all cases of reef damage, most of which
probably violate the terms of multiple international environmental



John W. McManus, PhD
Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
Professor, Marine Biology and Ecology
Coral Reef Ecology and Management Lab (CREM Lab)
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)
University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, 33149
jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu      http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu/

"If you lose a diamond ring in the bedroom, don't look for it in the living
room just because the light there is better".

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Richard Dunne
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2015 6:42 AM
To: Coral List
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] New (old) way to murder a coral reef

Phil Dustan refers to the Spratly Islands development by the Chinese as
being "in violation of international law" and appears to contrast it with
the UK/US development of military facilities on Diego Garcia. He also claims
that the Chinese are taking destruction to a "new and higher level ".

I fail to see the distinction. The Chagos are subject to a claim to
sovereignty by UK and Mauritius. The Spratly Islands are also subject to
multiple claims to sovereignty by China, Vietnam, Philippines etc. Why
should Chinese actions in the Spratlys be any more a violation of
international law than the UK/US actions in Chagos?

The political situation in the Spratlys has also been tense for as long as I
have known about it (since the 1980s).

As to the "destruction", is he aware of the levels of 'development' on Diego
Garcia and has he compared this to the current actions by the Chinese?

Magnus is quite right to say "people in glass houses"

Richard P Dunne

On 11/04/2015 16:51, Magnus Johnson wrote:
> I absolutely agree - The situation with Mauritius is quite tense.  The US
should leave Diego Garcia now unless the Chagossians choose to keep them
there.  The UK should transport Chagossians back to their homeland and pay
them significant compensation.  The Chagossians should determine the
conservation of their waters.  The world should support them and the
sustained conservation of Chagos and surrounding waters on a legitimate
> http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-chagossians-the-ind
> ian-ocean-islanders-exiled-from-their-home-and-struggling-to-make-ends
> -meet-in-britain-10169107.html
> Coral reef conservation cannot be sustainable in a political, moral and
legal vacuum.  We cannot pretend to hold the moral high ground and encourage
or demand better behaviour when our behaviours and inabilities to conserve
our own back yards are and have been at times is just as bad as that of
> "How is it that supposed experts and "guardians of nature" come here after
having failed to conserve trees and wildlife in their places of origin?"
> (Maasai community leader; from Dowie 2011, Conservation Refugees)
>   ________________________________________
> From: Phil Dustan [dustanp at cofc.edu]
> Sent: 10 April 2015 15:23
> To: Magnus  Johnson
> Cc: Coral List
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] New (old) way to murder a coral reef
> Magnus,
>    So Just because a bunch of reefs have been murdered by military powers
over time there is no reason to take the destruction to new and higher
levels on purpose, especially when it is in violation of international law
and aggravates an already tense political problem
> On Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 12:29 PM, Magnus Johnson
<m.johnson at hull.ac.uk<mailto:m.johnson at hull.ac.uk>> wrote:
> People in glass houses . . . .
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.google.co.uk_
> maps_place_Diego-2BGarcia-2BMilitary-2BBase_-40-2D7.3914155-2C72.40532
> 61-2C61220m_data-3D-213m1-211e3-214m2-213m1-211s0x2492724c04a8a721-3A0
> xbce8b282922bb016&d=AwIFAg&c=7MSSWy9Bs2yocjNQzurxOQ&r=mxnjGj1-K1cYCH-J
> H1g-7Q&m=yzWpp1zsQBYO6fwtFB7R0j7PJl0TyzMzAGigu1jlOKQ&s=jcitp4LPn5shs-8
> B1hkgtlb__jTC49lsUbNoFcYYJcM&e=
> (UK & US: disputed territory, damage to reefs and wildlife, unlicensed 
> fishing, riding roughshod over international conventions) 
> ________________________________________
> ________________________________________
> From: Phil Dustan [dustanp at cofc.edu<mailto:dustanp at cofc.edu>]
> Sent: 09 April 2015 10:44
> To: Coral List
> Subject: [Coral-List] New way to murder a coral reef
> Greetings Listers,
>   While we ponder the ways of the diving industry the Chinese have 
> taken reef destruction to another dimension in the South China Sea:
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.scmp.com_news_
> asia_article_1761516_satellite-2Dphotos-2Dshow-2Dchina-2Dreclaiming-2D
> land-2Daround-2Ddisputed-2Dmischief-2Dreef&d=AwIFAg&c=7MSSWy9Bs2yocjNQ
> zurxOQ&r=mxnjGj1-K1cYCH-JH1g-7Q&m=yzWpp1zsQBYO6fwtFB7R0j7PJl0TyzMzAGig
> u1jlOKQ&s=wuvvHFgAUejwRDjUAXbyDMZOaftEKQHi4u_cjiQoWNc&e=
> --
> Phillip Dustan
> Department of Biology
> College of Charleston
> Charleston SC  20401
> Charleston SC
> 843 953 8086<tel:843%20953%208086> (voice) 
> 843-224-3321<tel:843-224-3321> (m)

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