[Coral-List] Coral Fragging should be banned

Victor Jongeneel vjongene at gmail.com
Fri Apr 12 22:58:32 UTC 2019

OK, maybe time for a reality check. There are quite a few outfits out there, particularly in locations where there is little in the way of academic coral biology research, that are trying to do restoration work using nurseries, fragging, and outplanting on artificial supports. Many of these are led by competent and dedicated individuals. I don't think that banning them would accomplish anything useful. What is really needed is to provide them with guidance to avoid the most blatant problems associated with "coral monocultures", in terms of preserving genetic diversity and avoiding the emergence of artificial reefs devoid of biodiversity. The Coral Restoration Consortium is trying to do just that, and should be applauded for their efforts.

There are also other dimensions to this. Here in Curaçao, the Government (well-intentioned but misguided) has banned the collection of any more "fragments of opportunity" used for asexual propagation, therefore limiting the genetic diversity of the stocks available for outplanting. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't provide any funding for the restoration efforts either.

The remarks about needing a PhD to be considered a restoration practitioner are IMHO misplaced. While I absolutely agree that a solid background in genetics is helpful to properly plan and execute a restoration program, I also feel that a reasonably intelligent individual who cares about conservation and restoration can understand the issues with a few weeks of training (disclosure: I do have a PhD in genetics). Not publishing results in academic journals is by no means an indication that the program is sloppy.

So my €0.02 worth: there is no reason to ban fragging, but there are plenty of reasons to provide better guidance and training to those who want to do it, and to be critical of efforts that fail to enforce minimal standards.

C. Victor Jongeneel, PhD

-----Original Message-----
From: Coral-List <coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> On Behalf Of Chad Scott via Coral-List
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2019 14:36
To: Nicole Crane <nicrane at cabrillo.edu>
Cc: Coral -List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Coral Fragging should be banned

Hello Nicole,
Thank you for your reply. I have not heard of any such sites, but I think that the industry must makes moves to self-regulate and prevent more groups from doing this types of work. As far as I can tell, Oceanquest is the worst one in my area, and they are backed by Sea Shepard so they think they are the best, however they do absolutely no monitoring and have no peer-reviewed publications on their results. Their only claim to notoriety is their association with Sea Shepherd. They also offer a 3 day course for people to become instructors in coral propagation, which I thin is laughable when people spend the better part of a decade getting PhD. in the field before beginning such endeavors.
Chad Scott


On Thu, Apr 11, 2019 at 2:41 PM Nicole Crane <nicrane at cabrillo.edu> wrote:

> I very much appreciate and agree with this Chad.  I think this is 
> actually a bigger problem than many of us might realize.  Our work has 
> shown negative effects, especially on fish - which of course is 
> important to the communities there, of 'weedy' corals that dominate a 
> reef.  By propagating corals, especially those that grow quickly, well 
> meaning people may well be causing problems.  Kind of like Junipero 
> Serra spreading all his fast growing weedy european grasses and plants 
> to mark his trail and fed livestock.  Wow, look what that did to 
> California coastal communities!!! If you aren't a CA person - the short story is it wasn't good.
> I too have now seen several of these programs to propagate corals, and 
> the idea seems to be spreading, especially marketed as a restoration program.
> Might be good to have a platform where people could add programs they 
> are rare of and what region they are in??  Given that these people are 
> well intentioned, pairing these with better information might be very effective?
> Does anyone have the bandwidth to do that?
> best
> Nicole
> Nicole L. Crane
> Faculty, Cabrillo College
> Natural and Applied Sciences
> www.cabrillo.edu/~ncrane
> Senior Conservation Scientist, Project co-lead One People One Reef 
> onepeopleonereef.ucsc.edu
> On Thu, Apr 11, 2019 at 10:43 AM Chad Scott via Coral-List < 
> coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:
>>  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/26
>> 3941566997083
>> >
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