[Coral-List] Causes of reef decline

Pedro M Alcolado gmalcolado at gmail.com
Tue Feb 21 19:17:39 EST 2017

Very rucial indeed, Mark!!!
I would include the non application of functional Integrated Coastal
Management as a very important governance tool.
Best wishes for all,

On 2/18/17, Peter Sale <sale at uwindsor.ca> wrote:
> Right on, Mark.
> I had a disillusioning experience in Jamaica about four years ago.  (Or it
> would have been disillusioning, if I was less jaded than I was by then.)
> They wanted us to guide a revision to the management plans for three MPAs
> including Montego Bay, the oldest in the country.  Apart from discovering
> (not unusual) that the agency wanted us to write a document to place on
> their shelf, rather than do any of the mentoring and guiding they had asked
> for initially, I had the joy of listening to managers explain the total lack
> of enforcement of fishing restrictions in two no-take zones as due to 1) a
> repeated claim by the fishing co-ops that they had to have the sites'
> borders buoyed so the fishers would know where they were, 2) shortage of
> funds for buoys, and 3) very effective nighttime removal by persons unknown
> of any buoys that were put out.  This had been going on for years while all
> parties assured one another than they wanted to get the regulations into
> force.
> I suggested it was time to tell the fishers that the sites would not be
> buoyed because of evident logistic difficulties, and that it was the
> fishers' responsibility to know where they were out on the water.  That
> suggestion did not go over well with the agency, and so far as I know was
> never put to the fishers.  Meanwhile higher levels of government were
> pretending that giving responsibility for management to tiny non-profits,
> keeping their budgets way too small, and getting grants to bring in the odd
> consultant for another report was an effective way to manage Jamaica's
> MPAs.
> Building political will to actually do something useful in environmental
> management remains a challenge there and in many other nations round the
> world.
> Peter Sale
> University of Windsor
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark Tupper [mailto:Mark.Tupper at utt.edu.tt]
> Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2017 3:20 PM
> To: Billy Causey - NOAA Federal <billy.causey at noaa.gov>
> Cc: Peter Sale <sale at uwindsor.ca>; Dennis Hubbard
> <dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu>; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov; Les Kaufman
> (lesk at bu.edu) <lesk at bu.edu>; tmcclanahan at wcs.org
> Subject: Causes of reef decline
> Billy, I'll add another cause of reef decline: lack of political will within
> upper levels of government to do any of the things that Peter just suggested
> we should seek to do. For example, In 2013, the Fisheries Divisions of
> Trinidad and Tobago developed a reef fisheries management plan that
> addressed most of the items on Peter's list. Four years later it is still
> collecting dust with the Legislative Branch. Worse yet, the Tobago House of
> Assembly has failed to act on multiple reef management plans for
> Northeastern Tobago - the first such plans dating back to 1983. As a result
> of the government's failure to act on the recommendations of project after
> project, the local community suffers from stakeholder fatigue and is leery
> of any further reef management planning. How do we build the political will
> within governments to act on what ecologists and managers tell them?
> Mark
>> On Feb 18, 2017, at 2:43 PM, Billy Causey - NOAA Federal
>> <billy.causey at noaa.gov> wrote:
>> Peter,
>> You, Judy and Tim, and a few others, have been right on track. I have
>> been following this thread and communication and find some
>> explanations way off the mark.
>> In my estimation, coral decline continues to be the synergy between
>> the impacts of climate change, land-based sources if pollution,
>> habitat loss and degradation and overfishing.  Considering that
>> overfishing affects the food chain and removal of important reef
>> species such as the grazers.  And, I don't have time to start on the
>> problems of fish traps and how they can remove important reef species
>> that make up a robust reef fish community.
>> Personally, I have added a fifth cause of reef community decline and
>> in the Wider Caribbean that is Lionfish.
>> Keep the good messages pouring in Peter, Judy and Tim and others.
>> Billy
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>> On Feb 17, 2017, at 5:25 PM, Peter Sale <sale at uwindsor.ca> wrote:
>>> Kudos to Tim McClanahan, in particular, for quietly reintroducing a touch
>>> of realism into this discussion.  Coral reef decline is proceeding around
>>> the world, but seems to me to be particularly severe in the Caribbean.
>>> (Perhaps that is because of the relatively small number of primary reef
>>> builders in that system, some of which have been savagely hit by
>>> disease.)  The decline is caused by many concurrent stressors (Judy
>>> Lang's post hit most of them in one sentence).  The relative importance
>>> of these stressors varies from place to place, and from time to time.
>>> The long-term trajectory looks very bleak.
>>> I doubt any of you disagree with my first paragraph.  But if we reef
>>> scientists, and particularly the reef ecologists amongst us, cannot
>>> remember that this is a case of simultaneous, possibly synergistic,
>>> stressors acting in different ways on different species when we discuss
>>> what is happening, how can we expect other people to comprehend the
>>> magnitude of the problem?  To spend lines and lines of text on coral-list
>>> debating whether or not parrotfish grazing is to blame (as if one factor
>>> will be the leading cause of decline across time and space) cheapens the
>>> discussion and reduces any chance of articulating clearly what is needed
>>> to gain some improvement.  We can all do better.
>>> And please, let us stop reducing the concept of herbivory, by
>>> parrotfishes, sea urchins or anybody else, to a simple binary
>>> interaction between the grazer and the macroalgae, with the corals
>>> waiting patiently on the outcome..  What utter nonsense.  It's been
>>> well documented in numerous marine environments that algae of
>>> different species respond differently to grazing pressure.  Most
>>> macroalgae escape most of the herbivore guild through growth, so that
>>> the suite of herbivores that might keep a bare site free of anything
>>> other than a fine algal turf is quite incapable of returning a lush
>>> stand of macroalgae to that fine turf state.  Different species of
>>> macroalgae are differentially palatable to different species of
>>> herbivore, are differentially impacted by pollution, by nutrients, by
>>> storms.  I could go on.  Even understanding the algal-herbivore
>>> interaction requires much more subtle ecological insights than are
>>> evident when all parrotfishes and all algae are considered inte
>> rch
>>> angeable.  If we do not improve the way in which we talk about the loss
>>> of living coral on our coral reefs, we diminish the chance of really
>>> understanding what is happening, or potentially discovering effective
>>> management actions.  We are all capable of elevating the level of
>>> discourse.  If the world is destined to lose most of its coral reefs this
>>> century, I'd like to think that at minimum, we had at least learned what
>>> was happening, and could articulate what would have been needed to
>>> prevent that eventual demise.  We cannot learn from our mistakes without
>>> understanding clearly what has happened, and the eventual demise of coral
>>> reefs, if it does happen, needs to become a teachable moment.
>>> Peter Sale
>>> University of Windsor
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
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