[Coral-List] We must change course if we are to save the world's reefs

Peter Sale sale at uwindsor.ca
Sat Nov 11 23:57:24 EST 2017

Hi Avigdor,
I agree with the general thrust of your comment, except for your claim that when it comes to reef protection and stressor alleviation, we need "no further research, because we already know how" to do this.  That was precisely my point in the first post in the thread.  We do know enough to undertake some useful actions that will help correct local issues such as overfishing, pollution, siltation, etc.  We could be doing a lot more on this front than we are.  But we do NOT know enough to fix these types of problems.

Overfishing has turned out to be a pernicious problem in many locations, chiefly because of cultural or societal issues - I am sure there is more to learn here.  Most forms of pollution - ditto.
We have little information on the effects of pollution by trace chemicals in pharmaceuticals, herbicides, pesticides, and the myriad other chemicals we allow to escape into the environment in small concentrations.  How many of them have even been monitored for in reef waters, tested against reef organisms?  And then there are the societal issues to do with remediation and compliance monitoring.
We are unable to suggest much to deal with serious reef diseases, other than to wait and hope.
And as for the general pattern of a phase shift towards algal dominance, and the desire to reverse it... we talk a lot about building reef resilience, we suggest some actions (such as reducing fishing of herbivores) that might help build that resilience, but we certainly do not know how to reverse those phase shifts yet.

I am not arguing for more and more research so we can be sure, before we begin to act to conserve/sustain reefs.  I agree with people who say we know enough to act (and have said that myself on many occasions).  I am claiming, that even with respect to such obvious things as overfishing, we still have more to learn before we could make recommendations for policies and actions which would truly solve these problems.

Peter Sale
sale at uwindsor.ca<mailto:sale at uwindsor.ca>

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