[Coral-List] response to coral fragging post

walt smith walt at waltsmith.com
Mon Apr 15 01:35:33 UTC 2019

hi all, my thoughts. I could be wrong but ...

I had to read this article a couple of times to make sure I understood
correctly what Chad was trying to say.

Although I will always give credit to enlightenment and new ways to look at
old problems this article is trying to convince the reader that all
propagation projects follow the same formula without realizing what he is
claiming is physically impossible to do. I believe he is trying to convince
us that most (if not all) restoration programs are using the same donor
colony to clone thousands of fragments thus ignoring the opportunity to
create biodiversity. How is that even possible?

I understand the part where he claims, if this is what we are doing, that
we would be creating potentially sterile populations of coral that are
genetically unable to reproduce. However, that theory would also have to be
proven just like any other science. I suppose this hypothesis could be true
if you only look at very small projects where only a couple of donor
colonies are utilized but it is unlikely there are many projects that
follow that model to a large scale.

One statement really stands out for me “Coral restoration programs should
stop focusing on fragging or propagation techniques to produce feedstocks
of corals. Instead they should utilize naturally created fragments from a
variety of species already found on the reef, also known as ‘corals of
opportunity’. By utilizing these naturally produced fragments, the programs
are not increasing the genetic diversity, but are preserving it while
increasing the abundance of corals without leading to the negative genetic
effects” …. So, I guess there is some genetic difference between corals
that we choose to frag and frags that we find on the ocean floor that have
naturally broken off the mother colony through a variance of disturbances.
HUH? In my opinion, Chad needs to reevaluate that statement before he opens
himself up for major controversy as we are starting to see now.

Just one swim over our array of racks will not only display the diversity
we are working with but also cast a big shadow over the approach to this
article. Even though I do not doubt the science he is preaching it remains
difficult to convince me that this is what’s happening in the world of
conscientious Reef Restoration projects. Yes, there are small resort-based
projects run by inexperienced employees that have convinced themselves they
are coral farmers, but those projects usually fail or never reach the size
to create major negative consequences.

I say all this with the deepest respect for an author/scientist who cares
enough to put their thoughts and concerns out for public review. After all,
that’s how we all learn from each other to create a better world.

I am attaching a recent report done on our farm sites in Northern Fiji with
the follow up due to be conducted in May this year.


Thanks for sharing,


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