[Coral-List] Mat Nolan on 'Coral Fragging Should be banned'

Chad Scott marineconservationkt at gmail.com
Mon Apr 15 19:30:32 UTC 2019

Mat Nolan,

I will do my best to reply to some of your questions.
1) A quick google search can give you the answer to this, I am not sure how
to quantify it to satisfy you, but there are hundreds of news reports
describing success by groups for creating tens of thousands to hundreds of
thousands of asexually produced fragments (generally using only Acropora)
with no mention of monitoring or past success/failures. Of the 5 case
studies presented in the book *Reef Restoration Concepts and
Guidelines *(Edwards
and Gomez 2007), only two had monitoring programs extending longer than 1
year, with the longest monitoring program planned for a maximum of 5 years.
Meaning that most researchers and coral restorationists are looking
primarily only at the small scale or short-term benefits of their programs
without considering long-term consequences of reduced genetic variation. I
have here the abstracts from the 2nd Asia Pacific Coral Reef Symposium; 8
described projects using fragments collected from donor colonies, 6
described adding reef structure, only 1 focused on larvae culturing, and
none focused on the utilization of naturally formed coral fragments. Of the
poster presentations on coral nurseries or transplants; 3 used asexual
cloning from donor corals, 3 larvae culturing, 2 natural fragments, and 1
used fragments from an unlisted source. The two largest projects were from
Bali Island, Indonesia (Onaka *et al.*) and the Gulf of Thailand
(Sritongkam). The first project created 110,000 ramets of *Acropora* sp.
from an unlisted number of donor colonies and monitoring was carried out
for only 1.5 years. The second project has a goal of 80,000 ramets from
branching *Acropora *over 5 years and did not list the number of donor
colonies nor the length of monitoring.

2) your next few questions seem more rhetorical or abstract, but I think
what you are saying is I am missing the point of education and awareness
that these programs bring. I did leave that out of my article, as it is not
a trait specific to asexual propagation. In fact, using corals of
opportunity or larvae culturing can have the same educational value, and
even more so because it includes long term projections for the reef and is
based on increasing reef resilience rather than merely focusing on short
term abundance of corals. It also gives people more perspective on the
functional and structural role that individual species of corals pay and
the greater ecological implications of that, all which are ideas that can
be easily consumed by visitors and community members if discussed in the
proper way.

I agree that maybe zoning could help, and I also agree that there should be
avenues for bringing hand-on activities to non-specialists to get involved
in ocean restoration, as too many people see the problems of the ocean as
distant and not affecting them. It is important to get everybody involved
if we want to be successful in saving our oceans, and people on holiday are
a great market for that. I am in no way saying those programs should be
banned, only that their techniques need to follow the best scientific
protocols, and I do not believe fragging fits that description.

Thank you for your comments
Chad Scott


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