[Coral-List] Reply to fellow coral-listers "Coral Fragging should be banned"

Chad Scott marineconservationkt at gmail.com
Mon Apr 15 19:04:04 UTC 2019

I appreciate all of your replies, and the fact that we are openly and
honestly discussing this.

>From looking at the last few replies, I should clarify a few things.
Firstly, I am not in anyway against coral restoration, I am an advocate of
it, I have been involved in it for over 12 years, and did my Master’s
Degree on taking a genetic approach to coral restoration by developing
selective breeding programs. Second, I know there are a lot of really great
restoration programs out there who strive to do their best and are
constantly learning and evolving the field. Third, I acknowledge that what
is going on in Florida/the Caribbean is an extreme case where folks are
working with species of corals that are nearly extinct.

However, in the region where I work (SE Asia) there are currently many dive
schools that are now calling themselves conservation centers sprouting up
literally overnight. Dive instructors can take a 3 day course and they can
become certified in teaching coral fragging programs and start selling
courses to customers. On the island of Koh Tao, where I mostly operate,
there are 4 conservation centers that operate out of dive schools who have
trained with various institutions, work with eachother and the government,
educate the local community (with no economic return), perform monitoring
and research, run holistic programs (i.e. also do monitoring, mooring line
installations, predator removals, clean-ups, establish local rules and
regulations, etc.), and also train students. They have all been running for
over ten years, and have many great successes to show. In the past 2 years,
5 more programs have sprung up that are focused solely on coral
propagation/fragging with no monitoring, no community work, and appear to
only be doing it for financial gain and business green-washing. When I talk
with people in Malaysia, they say the same is happening there.

I did not mean that people should have to have a PhD. before stating this
type of work but just said that many do, and taking a 3 day course is not
the equivalent. I think that we, as an industry, must set some ground rules
for ourselves based on the experiences of published scientists who come
have before us, not shut down reef restoration activities, but just to
ensure their quality. This may include points such as:
1) All restoration programs should first and foremost be involved in reef
monitoring and research so they understand the local and global threats
impacting the specific areas where they work
2) Restoration programs should monitor the fate of their projects for
ideally up to a decade, no more claiming success just based on the number
of fragments they create in one go

3) Restoration programs should publish their negative results and failures
to inform and assist others, not just throw nice pictures of new newly
transplanted corals up on social media

4) Feedstocks for restoration should be produced from naturally fragmented
corals found dying on the reef, and not through the use of donor corals
(except in extreme circumstances as in Florida).

5) Creating feedstocks through coral spawning projects should be seen as
the gold standard in restoration and the field should be developed in a way
that makes it more accessible to local reef manager and communities.

6) Dive centers should be encouraged to follow the rules of Green Fins and
their training organizations (PAD, SSI, BSAC, etc.) which states that no
living animals should be touched while diving, and only those properly
trained (ie. not a 3 day course) should be involved in such ventures

7) There should be an independent monitoring group of established
scientists and reef managers to monitor and investigate cases where
programs appear to be to coral fragging purely for financial gain or
marketing reasons
Chad Scott


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