[Coral-List] reef restoration in Belize *warning long-ish email*

sealab at earthlink.net sealab at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 22 16:07:22 UTC 2020

Dear Lisa,

Just for the record, I made it clear that although I am critical of some restoration projects, I did say that “all restoration projects are not alike and need to be evaluated on a case by case basis”. Others may have different perspectives on this, but my concerns are focused on the messaging being promulgated by SOME restoration outreach efforts and the potentially harmful effect it could have on public perceptions and opinion.

I’ve followed your project for years and admire your work. While people like me talk and write about it, you actually are doing something! Your concern, attention and efficacy towards local stressors serves as a model for others. There is no doubt that Fragments of Hope is sustained almost exclusively through your blood, sweat and tears.

Unfortunately there are other projects out there that are not as well-focused and conscientious. In my opinion their outreach efforts do not tell the whole story. By omitting the imperative need to address major stressors - they provide false hope and propagate the idea that outplanted “supercorals” can be engineered to withstand the effects of climate change as well as local threats. Simply put, they are suggesting that through their efforts we can save coral reefs.

If I were in charge of a principled, science-based project like yours, I would be frustrated too, but I would focus my condemnations on them for their indiscretions can lead to generalizations that reflect badly on everyone else.

Sincere regards,

Steve Mussman

On 9/21/20, 3:26 PM, Lisa Carne via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

Greetings from Belize on Belize’s Independence Day!

Have to pipe in on restoration threads: we have been at this since 2006, taking our time to satisfy ourselves with positive results scaling up once in 2009/2010 and again in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

At NO time have we ever said we can restore all reefs, and at no time have we ever downplayed or denied the primary issue of GhG emissions, or local impacts like water quality, over fishing, pollution, etc.

But we do say it can work; you need to 1) know your reefs-put that time in underwater!! 2) use stringent site selection criteria 3) include science & research, 4) do not outplant or add corals to nurseries during hurricane/bleaching season (june-november in Caribbean)!

Restoration is like yoga now, (!) when I started it was not, but the same criticisms still hold, and the projects that fail, or do not report failures, frustrate me personally, as does this revived debate where many responders have lumped all projects and practitioners together.

While over 150K coral ‘fragments’ have been outplanted nationwide in multiple MPAs and control sites (outside of MPAs) in Belize with a focus on the 3 acropora taxa (we do have other spp included), readers know the nature of acroporids make long term growth rates & survivorship difficult to track:

We have been using diver based mosaics since 2014 and last year started with drones for larger shallow coral reef quantifications and note: the costs of implementing these tools is far greater than the actual replenishment work itself.

We know we have >80% survival from the 1st elkhorn transplants almost 14 years, but that tells you nothing about how they have spread out; corals at our 1st site have survived 2 (indirect) Cat 1 hurricanes (Earl in 2016, Nana in 2020) and multiple bleaching events including 2019 & 2017, Belize’s most severe events yet.

over 20 diff A. palmata genets, > 10 A. cervicornis genets at Laughing Bird Caye National Park (1st & oldest site) alone

all three nursery-grown-outplanted acropora taxa spawned (Carne & Baums 2016)

we have increased coral cover from <6% to > 30 & 50% in certain sites (2010-2017/18): diver based mosaics

21% of shallow hectare reef is replenished acroporids (drone mosaics)

We do not have many publications, primarily because we are very small (outside of field work mostly me doing everything: accounting, admin & proposals in my home office ) which makes all these recent “literature reviews” disheartening on top of the decades-old same-old debates.

Our website, www.fragmentsofhope.org has a “media center" tab with our few publications (remember the 2016 ICRS MS was invited & peer-reviewed), and more recently two funders have allowed our technical reports to go up, I direct you to a few at the end of this email.

COSTS are extremely small compared to what reefs are worth and what most PhD’s bring home as salary alone: our averaged organization budget US$57.2K/year the last 7 years. This is inclusive of much more than active restoration: outreach materials, equipment, field trips/activities with schools AND paying for services outside of Belize: coral larvae spawn models (Dr. Claire Paris, U of Miami), genetics (Penn state), mosaics processing (U of Miami) and travel costs for many invited colleagues.

We have trained > 60 Belizeans and only use these people who are then paid a stipend (equivalent to dive master rates), included in above averaged budget.

Since my tag line “seeing is Belizing” is on COVID hold, you do not have to believe me when I say restoration can work-and Laughing Bird Caye National Park is the best example of this in the Caribbean, at least, even with ”just’ acroporids (we do have ARMS units in place for 3 years, as one tool to assess biodiversity, their retrieval in partnership with the Smithsonian also on hold, like so much..).

Check the following experts who have been here in person (if I forgot you and you have seen the results of our work in person please pipe in!):

David Vaughan

David Gulko

Brian Lapointe

Iliana Baums

Valerie Paul

Diego Lirman

Ania Banaszak

Arthur Gleason

Mark Butler

Steve Schill

Les Kaufman

Ken Nedimyer

Janie Wulff

I have not listed many of our collaborators and there is always room for more!

Find us on all social media (Facebook, Youtube, Titter, Instagram) for visuals, or contact me directly for any further info.

More corals=More fish(es),


Lisa Carne

Executive Director/Founder

Fragments of Hope

Placencia Village, Belize



Reports on website to check for data:

1) "Facilitating Coral Reef Resilience To Climate-driven Bleaching Incidence Through Bio-engineering As A Means of Lesson-learning: A Continuation. Dec 16, 2019-June 30, 2020"p. 18-19 are results of working with drones quantifying > 20% of a hectare of shallow reef is replenished acroporids: The left image shows the three acropora taxa color coded (orange =ACER 1938m2, red=APAL 250m2, yellow=APRO 52m2) versus the image on the right which combines all three acroporid taxa in one color, orange: Object-based classification of coral features based on an orthophoto mosaic (2cm RGB) acquired with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro flying at 300ft on July 31, 2019. The orange class represents all three replenished acroporid taxa (combined 2,190m2) and the red class represents star corals and dead coral structure, but not rubble (10,273 m2).

2) "Facilitating Coral Reef Resilience to Climate-Driven Bleaching Incidence Through Bioengineering as a Means of Lesson Learning: A Continuation January 23, 2019 –July 25, 2019” p. 6 reflects results of diver based mosaics: coral cover increases from baseline of ~ 6% (2010) to 30-50% (2017-2018)


Coral-List mailing list

Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov


More information about the Coral-List mailing list