[Coral-List] Coral-List 'Coral Fragging should be banned'

Jonathan Barton jbarton at callutheran.edu
Sun Apr 14 23:52:35 UTC 2019

Dear Chad Scott and Coral-Listers,

While care should be taken to promote genetic diversity in active reef
restoration efforts, I find some issues with your argument. Firstly, I
would like to say that I agree that we should consider and foster genetic
diversity of transplanted coral in active reef restoration efforts. That
being said, calling for a widespread ban on a very powerful tool we can use
to restore denuded reefs is short-sighted. When we identify particularly
resilient genotypes, how can we rationally discard asexual propagation
(fragging) of these genotypes as a tool for active reef restoration? If we
can use asexual propagation methods to outplant resilient coral fragments
that have already reached the size refuge that drastically increases
survivorship, we should. Reaching this size refuge in an *ex situ*
operation will take considerably longer for sexually produced coral
recruits compared with coral fragments which can start larger. Although
sexual propagation techniques are on the rise, we should be aware that a
finite amount of funding is available for various restoration projects, and
that asexual propagation methodology still remains more cost-effective.
Some regions may also lack the knowledge and resources to even practically
implement sexual propagation methods.

I understand that some organizations will take advantage of the ‘buzz’
around reef restoration to make a bit of money, but are these tiny sections
of reef with low genetic diversity really a net negative? You completely
ignore the benefit of recruitment of coral-associated biomass (fish and
many invertebrates) to these reef areas. Of course it is better to have
multiple species and genotypes of each transplanted onto denuded reefs, but
stating that all asexual propagation should be banned places negative
public relations attention on reef restoration as a whole and functionally
works against the collective. We want to involve as many people in reef
restoration as possible, which makes the expenditure of effort to undermine
the practices of someone else not advantageous to anyone but yourself. To
me it looks like a slander campaign against the competitors of Conservation
Diver, the company you are a head trainer for; also, the company that has
photos of asexual coral propagation all over its website. Why not instead
write an article on your website promoting the importance of genetic
diversity in reef restoration efforts without undermining the efforts of
others? You would assert that Conservation Diver considers genetic
diversity in your reef restoration operations and let that speak for
itself, without tarnishing reef restoration with negative PR.

Kind Regards,

Jonathan Barton
BSc (Hons) Biology
PhD Candidate at James Cook University and the Australian Institute of
Marine Science

**My views are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my

> ------------------------------
> 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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