[Coral-List] Walt Smith, response to 'coral fragging must be banned'

Chad Scott marineconservationkt at gmail.com
Mon Apr 15 19:58:32 UTC 2019

Walt Smith,

I am sorry you mis-understood me, I am not saying all programs do this, I
am saying a rising number of programs are repeating the mistakes that were
already outlined by Clark and Edwards and others since the early 1990’s.
Unfortunately, I can name off the top of my head over fifteen programs that
are doing so, and I am not well traveled. I can also name many programs
that are doing the right thing, I thought I was clear in my article that I
was talking only about programs who are focused on fragging and
inadvertently creating stands of mono-typic corals (mostly fast growing

In regards to your claim that there is no evidence of barriers to
self-reproduction in corals I may refer you to the work of Bette Willis,
Iliana Baums, David Carlon, Nany Knowlton, and their co-authors. If you
need the actual papers please private message me.

In regards to my statement concerning corals of opportunity preserving
genetic diversity over propagation. I stand by it. Using corals of
opportunity means swimming the length of the reef and collecting dying
coral fragments that have been naturally produced. Ideally in this way a
diver collecting 15 fragments will have 10-15 genotypes. A donor coral can
supply dozens of fragments, but all are one genotype. The programs I know
that focus on corals of opportunity tend to collect regularly, maybe every
week or month, so their coral nurseries are full of a diverse range of
coral species and genotypes. The programs I know that do fragging tend to
do it in large, intermittent efforts and use a limited number of coral
species (generally just Acroporids) and fill there nurseries with a limited
number of genotypes derived from a handful of mother colonies. Such
programs claim they are using more resilient genotypes, but resilient to
what? Resilient to the most recent bleaching event? Does that make them
resilient to the next disease outbreak as well? I strongly doubt it.

Again, I am not attacking reef restoration programs, I run several of them.
I am only saying we need to evaluate our methods to ensure we are making
better reefs for the future and not just adding to the number of dead
corals that the reefs will contain in 10-20 years.

Thanks again for your comments.

Chad Scott
Chad Scott


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