[Coral-List] FW: SPAM R2: Reply to fellow coral-listers "Coral Fragging should be banned"

Julian julian at reefcheck.org.my
Fri Apr 19 00:54:37 UTC 2019

As a non-scientists I would like to express my support for Chad's comment. The organisation I work for is involved in a small number of what we call reef restoration projects. We are doing these with two goals: 1) to understand how it works so we can learn more about reefs and 2) to educate local communities and other local stakeholders about coral reefs and the variety of threats they face. The latter allows us to start conversations with local stakeholders and, perhaps get them involved in activities to reduce those threats. 

Maintenance and monitoring are central to all our projects. Maintenance involves physically cleaning installations twice per week for the first six months (toothbrush to remove silt and algae - imagine how tedious that is). We also collect data on growth and survival over the long term - we are still monitoring the first site we established in 2011. We have released the results of our work - the good AND the bad so people don't repeat our mistakes - in reports published on our website. Many of the more recent restoration operators don't  do any monitoring at all. 

So I would echo Chad's call for improving regulation. Perhaps we should start with clarifying definitions of what we are doing...restoration, rehabilitation, propagation, coral gardening, coral nurseries...too many imprecise, overlapping terms.

Julian Hyde
General Manager
Reef Check Malaysia
+60 3 2161 5948
Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rcmalaysia

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-----Original Message-----
From: Coral-List [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Chad Scott via Coral-List
Sent: Tuesday, 16 April, 2019 3:04 AM
To: Coral -List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Subject: SPAM R2: [Coral-List] Reply to fellow coral-listers "Coral Fragging should be banned"

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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