[Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs

Helen Brunt helen.brunt at gmail.com
Mon Mar 30 21:57:12 EDT 2015

Dear Julian,

Well said. As someone who also worked alongside the dive industry in Malaysia while coordinating a community and conservation initiative, I concur with what you’ve stated. In most cases (and there are rare exceptions), it really is starkly apparent that it’s only the ka-ching of the cash register at the dive shops that the industry in general in hearing - and not ‘greenies’ going on about anthropogenic impacts to reefs, least of all climate change.

Coincidentally, I’ve just been alerted to this lecture at my alma mater (University of Sussex, UK) by a former professor of mine (Dr Dominic Kniveton). It may be of interest to some here, and it should be available as a podcast after the event.

Lost in translation: Understanding the relationship between climate and society

Wednesday 27th May 2015 18:30 until 19:30

The transformation of society in response to climate change and variability is mediated by how people understand and react to information on and perceptions of the climate. This talk takes us through two routes to further our understanding of climate's impact on society from a cognitive perspective. The first looks at the factors determining how farmers and pastoralists uptake climate information in Africa. The second explores how the understanding of how people react to climate can inform models of household behaviour that in turn reveal emergent patterns of behaviour at scale. In exploring these two areas of research we will grapple with the problems and opportunities of working on the boundaries of the disciplines of climate science, human geography, psychology and sociology.

This is an open public event and everyone is welcome to attend, but we do ask that you book your place as numbers are limited.
http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/sussexlectures/upcoming?id=28245 <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/sussexlectures/upcoming?id=28245>

Best wishes,

> On 31Mar, 2015, at 03:45, Alex Brylske <brylske at me.com> wrote:
> Wow! I’ve been scuba diving since LBJ was in office, and involved in the profession virtually full-time since 1976, and this is the most honest, accurate and lucid assessment of our industry—even here in North America/Caribbean—that I’ve ever seen! It makes me sick to say it, but my own experience is completely consistent with Julian’s. Whether it’s through true ignorance or insisting the Emperor is, in fact, wearing clothes, the dive industry, in my view, has been lying and/or ignoring the situation for far too long. It’s truly sad that a bright and well-intended individual like Julian is so frustrated that he’s essentially written off dive industry professionals, but I certainly can’t blame him
> Alex Brylske
>> On Mar 29, 2015, at 6:13 AM, Julian @ Reef Check <julian at reefcheck.org.my> wrote:
>> Steve
>>> From 2000 to 2006 I ran my own small dive centre on Tioman island, off the
>> East coast of Malaysia. The philosophy of the dive centre was "fun, safety,
>> conservation"; we put RM 10 (US$ 3) of the revenue from each customer into a
>> kitty to pay for things that had to be done but weren't being done by others
>> - net removal, etc. Most customers would top it up from their own cash. This
>> way we managed to put aside some cash flow for petrol, etc., instead of
>> having to pay for it all out of day to day cash flow.
>> At the time, I was completely astounded at the apparent total lack of
>> concern demonstrated by fellow dive operators for the health of the marine
>> environment - and I still pretty much am today. They didn't seem to equate
>> reef health with good future business - and they still don't today. I tried
>> to explain in different ways but failed (eg., if Ford motor company were to
>> stop servicing its main asset - production line - it would quickly stop
>> running; if an airline company were to stop servicing its main asset -
>> planes - they would quickly stop running; so with the dive industry - our
>> main asset is reefs; if we don't look after them, they will "stop running").
>> No response. But we did what we could and fortunately the local Marine Park
>> authority picked up on some of it (like Crown of Thorns clean ups).
>> Leaving the island, in 2007 I found myself involved with Reef Check
>> Malaysia, which I now run. After 8 years, I see little difference in
>> attitude of the industry. One or two operators, yes. But most? Not
>> interested. Money seems to be all that counts. Typical is Perhentian island.
>> They have basically a 6 month season, and they are full every day of that
>> six months. So why bother with conservation? People still come. Why bother
>> setting yourself up as an "environmentally friendly" dive centre (such as
>> Green Fins) when customers are not demanding it - and we are still full
>> every day?
>> In 2012/13, RCM was involved in a research programme to assess the economic
>> impact on dive tourism of the 2010 bleaching and  possible future bleaching
>> events. The programme was run by Heidi Schuttenberg, and had representatives
>> from NOAA, CSIRO, James Cook uni, etc. A good team. 
>> The project talked to dive operators and relevant institutions in three
>> locations in Malaysia, two in Thailand and three in Indonesia. After
>> listening to some of the results from Malaysia (and I think they were
>> similar elsewhere), some of the conclusions I came to were:
>> - in most places there had been little economic impact from the bleaching
>> - in many of these locations a significant part of their business is basic
>> diver certifications; trainees don't know what a reef looks like anyway, so
>> reef condition is not a decider in whether they decide to dive
>> - the overwhelming attitude seemed to be that if reefs die and get taken
>> over by algae - people will still dive; partly to see what an algae reef
>> looks like, partly because they love to dive.
>> So the industry sees little to concern themselves. Frustrating, right?
>> I believe that chasing climate change is a lost cause - certainly here and
>> perhaps other developing markets. There are just so many other priorities
>> (economic development) that are much more important. The message just isn't
>> getting across. We had flooding here early this year - probably partly due
>> to climate change...but no response from government or anyone; no linking it
>> to climate change.
>> Our focus has turned to resilience type concepts and local impacts. We are
>> working with local authorities to assess local impacts to reefs, in order to
>> meet Aichi target 10 on eliminating anthropogenic (we call them local)
>> impacts. This gets the management authority involved, which is a good thing;
>> it is also a national obligation, which gets some attention; and it allows
>> us to do a lot of work on the ground with various stakeholders - including
>> the dive industry. So we are pushing Green Fins as a way to reduce diver and
>> snorkeler impacts, for example. 
>> (I don't want to get involved in a debate here about whether or not divers
>> and snorkelers have an impact: my own observation tells me they MUST - you
>> only have to go to some islands here and watch up to 500 snorkelers - most
>> of whom can't swim - enter the water and crawl all over the place...fish
>> feeding...etc. There's an impact.) 
>> Using GF provides a framework for introducing various measures - not just
>> user impacts but sewage treatment, fishing access, etc. It also provides the
>> opportunity to push for improving regulations - requiring resort operators
>> to improve infrastructure, training snorkelling and dive guides in
>> eco-friendly guiding, etc.
>> Using resilience I have found is a useful tool in giving local people a
>> simple explanation about reef health - compare to a healthy human, rested,
>> no stress - illness bounces off; but if that person is (like me!) - less
>> healthy, not enough rest...then the illness has a major impact. Same with
>> reefs - healthy, no impacts - bleaching "bounces off" - it's not quite that
>> simple, but that's the gist of it. Talk to them about bleaching - no
>> response - they don't get it; talk to them in terms they can understand,
>> more of a response. It's a starting point. And usually the local communities
>> are responsible for a large proportion of those local impacts.
>> But at the end of the day, what I am realising (this may be a developing
>> country issue) is that people STILL won't take action until pressed to do so
>> by government; back to the Aichi targets, which can be used as a bit of a
>> stick at all levels - government signed up for it, there's national pride at
>> stake, so we have to get on and do it.
>> Sorry for such a long response; but I hope it's useful. I fully support what
>> you are doing, I think the dive industry has been using the oceans for free
>> for far too long without any responsibility for their health, and want to
>> help any way I can. But I think the scuba industry is just in it for the
>> money; they don't really care about conservation (except for individual
>> operators). So for our part of the world, I'm sorry to say I think we are
>> going to need more sticks; hopefully user-friendly ones like the Aichi
>> targets, but sticks nonetheless.
>> Best regards,
>> Julian Hyde
>> General Manager
>> Reef Check Malaysia
>> 03 2161 5948
>> www.reefcheck.org.my
>> Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rcmalaysia
>> "The bottom line of the Millenium Assessment findings is that human actions
>> are depleting Earth's natural capital, putting such strain on the
>> environment that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future
>> generations can no longer be taken for granted."
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Steve Mussman
>> Sent: Thursday, 26 March, 2015 2:54 AM
>> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Subject: [Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs
>>  Dear Listers,
>>  I'm working with others to try and encourage the scuba diving industry to
>>  get more proactive
>>  with regard to it's policies on coral reef conservation. As you know,
>> there
>>  has been no progress
>>  within the industry on addressing climate change.. That issue is and has
>>  been a non-starter for
>>  years. Now the question arises as to whether or not to even focus on that
>>  concern going forward.
>>  Many of you seem to be resigned to the fact that that ship has already
>>  sailed. Recent comments seem
>>  to indicate a shift in focus from avoidance to mitigation and adjustment
>> to
>>  a new reality which envisions
>>  coral reefs as a manifestation of the concept of "novel ecosystems". If
>> that
>>  is in fact the case, on what
>>  issues should the industry be focusing if and when it ever becomes
>> willing
>>  to become seriously involved
>>  in developing effective measures designed to conserve the reefs of
>> tomorrow
>>  whatever their composition
>>  may be? Do we shift entirely to land-based pollutants, sedimentation and
>>  over-fishing or do we continue
>>  to press for action or at least policy objectives related to
>> sustainability
>>  and carbon emissions? I need input.
>>  Contact  me  off-list  if necessary, but exchanging ideas openly seems
>>  appropriate and even beneficial.
>>  It would certainly be refreshing to witness a free flow of ideas.
>>  Regards,
>>  Steve
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Helen Brunt

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