[Coral-List] Recent publications on the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Reef situation -- plus reef and fishery basics

McManus, John W jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Tue Jul 25 15:17:04 EDT 2017

A paper, which may be of interest to some but not in a common source for coral reef issues, has finally been formally published after being passed around a lot as a draft for many months:

McManus JW (2017) Offshore Coral Reef Damage, Overfishing, and Paths to Peace in the South China Sea. The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 32:199–237

The draft of this paper had some influence in a recent Law of the Sea case. A follow-up paper was previously published a chapter in a conference book, available for download at https://www.csis.org/analysis/wake-arbitration. That article is:

McManus JW (2017 ) CHAPTER 10 | Offshore Coral Reefs and High Tide Features of the South China Sea: Origins, Resources, Recent Damage, and Potential Peace Parks. Pp 124 -147 in: Hiebert M, Poling GB, Cronin C (eds)  In the Wake of the Arbitration: Papers from the Sixth Annual CSIS South China Sea Conference. CSIS Center for Strategic and International Studies, Rowman & Littlefield, NY.

Both papers were written for general audiences, and so introduce a lot of topics which may be of interest to students or specialists in other areas, such as basic fisheries science, reef zonation and accretion processes, coral island formation, and some pertinent aspects of Law of the Sea. Additionally, the diagrams widely may be useful, including one in which I combined recent sea-level rise rate projections with a net accretion rate from a relatively fast-growing reef (chosen from the earlier Science note by Hubbard et al.). It demonstrates that, under the business as usual scenario, most or all reefs will likely become subsurface reefs by 2100, losing their ability to protect hundreds to thousands of coastal villages from sudden, catastrophic erosion during cyclonic storms. Clearly, either the act of disrupting critical reef calcification and hydrodynamic processes, or the failure of the Paris Accord, will severely impact coral reef and reef-dependent people by the end of the century.

Note that the recent building of military bases on seven reefs was encouraged by the general pessimism around the world about the lack of recovery of reefs from damage. All of the sites had previously been damaged by giant clam chopper boats. These reefs are frequently damaged by typhoons, and are adapted to fast recovery. Even with the disruption to the substrate, I would have expected them to show significant recovery within a decade or two. However, the fact that they were classified as 'dead' reef areas was used to justify covering them with sand, gravel and concrete. Thus, the 'wounded' patients were buried alive. Exaggerating reef situations can lead to this kind of poor decision-making, as well as the discouraging of national and international agencies from investing in reef management.

Lacking funds for the open-access publishing option, I can only put the draft of the former paper on my ResearchGate site. However, I would be happy to email pdfs of the final papers to anyone who requests them.



John W. McManus, PhD.
Professor, Marine Biology and Ecology
Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)
University of Miami. Phone: 305-421-4814<tel:(305)%20421-4814>
Website: http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/people/faculty-index/?p=john-mcmanus
NCORE Website: http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu/
ResearchGate site: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/John_Mcmanus4

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

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