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

Nicole Crane nicrane at cabrillo.edu
Mon Apr 15 15:02:12 UTC 2019

This is a great discussion, and thanks all for participating.  I think one
of Chad's concerns is the widespread use of fragging with limited training
and in depth knowledge of its mechanisms.  While I agree that an outright
ban may not be the best route, bringing attention to a practice that needs
to be done with care and research is probably a good idea.  Our work, for
example, is showing that a relatively recently 'fragged' coral (probably
via a combination of big storm and small boats) is spreading very well, is
very resilient, and is colonizing reefs at a pretty fast rate, and is
lovely to look at.  BUT, upon closer inspection, it is overgrowing other
corals, driving diversity way down and, most importantly for the local
people, fish don't seem to care much for it.  Fish biomass on the reefs
that are monospecifically dominated by this species of *Montipora* is quite
low compared to more diverse reefs.

I really think the take home message is that relationships in ecological
systems can be quite complex.  If we choose what grows where, and how much
of it, we are likely influencing a whole host of other relationships, which
may not have great outcomes.  This is a very important point.  For example,
in reefs that may be resilient otherwise, and ones where protecting fish
diversity first (which can lead to a rebound in corals), that may be a more
productive angle than out planting corals with little knowledge of broader
consequences.  The much more difficult task of working with local people to
manage fishing and reef impacts may ultimately be better for some reefs. By
playing 'god' to reef health, this very western driven approach may be
compromising people whose reefs are being altered - and not necessarily to
their benefit.

With systems like this - slow, thoughtful, well designed and well
researched may be a better way forward...


Nicole L. Crane
Faculty, Cabrillo College
Natural and Applied Sciences

Senior Conservation Scientist, Project co-lead
One People One Reef

On Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 6:29 AM Jonathan Barton via Coral-List <
coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

> 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
> institutions**
> > ------------------------------
> >
> > 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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