[Coral-List] Coral fragging should be banned

Austin Bowden-Kerby abowdenkerby at gmail.com
Fri Apr 12 01:24:04 UTC 2019

Hi Chad,

I understand where you are coming from.  The IndoPacific lags far behind
the Caribbean, and it is like the wild west out here.  We see some resorts
here in Fiji with small coral programs being run by untrained people, and
while they may cause some small damage, they are all rather minimal and of
not real consequence to the reef- there are perhaps more failed projects
than ongoing ones, but relative to the vast reefs insignificant.

The fact remains that Fiji and many other nations do not have any
requirements at all for a permit to manipulate and handle corals, so a ban
on ad-hock untrained people doing coral gardening would require going
nation-by-nation, and would probably take more effort than it is worth.  A
better approach might be to establish high standards of training through
certification courses and make those easily accessible to those wanting to
get involved. Before there was PADI there were a lot of SCUBA related
deaths, and I can imagine how some may have wanted to ban SCUBA diving.

No one wants to hurt the reef, and everyone wants to learn more- that is
the positive underlying verity. With that belief, we last year began trying
to rein in the ad-hock resort-based coral gardeners with a more in-depth
training program, so that the coral work they do is more successful and has
a climate change adaptation goal.  We conducted three one-week workshops
for 18 trainees, most of them USP marine studies graduates, five of which
are now working at resorts, and doing much better in many areas, including
monitoring. We are planning yet another training for May.  I have written a
draft text with the various concerns and possible negative ramifications of
the work included, and we are developing a tiered certificate course:
basic, advanced and trainer levels.  We are planning to offer the course to
international students in the coming months- which we will announce.

Because our sites are subject to hot waters and bleaching, with a major
bleaching event hitting us right now, the strategy we are promoting
involves creating gene bank nurseries of corals that are bleaching
resistant- to collect the strongest of the more sensitive genera, and to
grow those in the nurseries, where they are safe from COTS and snail
predation.  As they become big, these become 'mother colonies' - trimmed as
a maintenance strategy to keeping them at a manageable size, so that they
remain vigorous for multiple decades.  The fags created are used for
out-planting and thus are all second-generation corals, and we use those to
create patches of diverse bleaching resistant corals on degraded reefs.  A
relatively small shallow water rope nursery, located over sand, can hold
over a hundred coral genotypes- a considerable diversity.  The present
bleaching event has tested the corals in our nurseries and is helping keep
us on track as far as ensuring that what we grow is indeed bleaching

We have a long way to go, but we have also come far.

I hope this helps allay some of your concerns.


Austin Bowden-Kerby, PhD
Corals for Conservation
Sustainable Environmental Livelihoods for the Future
P.O. Box 4649 Samabula, Fiji Islands
TEDx talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PRLJ8zDm0U

> Message: 2
> Date: Wed, 10 Apr 2019 14:11:14 -0600
> From: Chad Scott <marineconservationkt at gmail.com>
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] Coral Fragging should be banned
> Message-ID:
>         <CA+m9qrBYc8wvivbv=b=
> uY2yDq46cJ5GT00NxS9v+SzXNofc1GQ at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"

 Hello coral-listers,
> I am growing concerned about the number of so-called reef conservation
> programs that are focused solely on coral fragging (propagation),
> especially in SE Asia and the Indo-Pacific. These programs are well
> intentioned, but extremely misguided. In one such prominent  program,
> people are able to become 'Instructors' in just three days, with no
> scientific traing. This agency does no monitoring or research, and as far
> as I can tell has never published a peer reviewed paper. They are focused
> on coral propagation because it is easy and looks good on social media, yet
> they do not have any understanding or consideration to the genetic affects
> of their work, nor its long-term implications. They are not involved in any
> other activities to address the threats (other than clean-ups maybe), and
> have not made any attempt to work with the local communities.
> I have written an article concerning this growing trend, and would like to
> hear the response of the scientific community. I know that many of you have
> been involved in related work for several decades, and think you are vital
> in resolving this issue. I fear that if the reef restoration community does
> not take proactive steps to self-regulate then draconian top-down controls
> will be implemented, and the vital work of so many will be stopped.
> Thank you,
> Chad Scott
> My arguments are summarized in the article is available here:
> http://conservationdiver.com/coral-fragging-should-be-banned/
> <
> http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Heaven-Reef-Conservation-Program/263941566997083
> >

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