FWS: Seeding & Tracking: In Defense of the Coral Triangle

The fishermen put flammable ingredients into a bottle and chucked them into the water. When it exploded the stunned fish’s swim bladders ruptured, the loss of buoyancy caused a small number of fish to float to the surface while a good deal sank to the sea floor. The fish targeted were not the only ones who suffered. Other marine life nearby, the waters, and coral reefs were affected by what is known as blast fishing.

South East Asia, home of the Coral Triangle A.K.A the Amazon of the Seas, is the number one region depending on Coral Reefs as a means for food supply. Blast fishing has caused a lot of the beautiful habitats, which 25% of marine life depend on, to become either fragmented or outright damaged. 25% percent of known marine life depends on Coral Reefs, which make up 1% of the Earths surface.

coral reefsI want to bring attention to two solutionary programs helping to recreate a healthy Coral Environment for the fish and Marine life of this great region of beautiful biodiversity. First an interview with Scott Maybach, a local marine biologist planting seeded Coral. Next, highlighting a passive acoustic technology (PAM) coupled with an app that alerts Marine Park Rangers of fish bombing activities and pinpoints the exact location of the activity to immediately respond and address perpetrations.

Coral Reef seeding or Reef Planting reintroduces live coral to fragmented or damaged coral sights.

FWS: To give us an overview of who you are and what you do, I ask what is your background? What brought you to the works you do today?

Scott: I am a marine biologist working for an island resort. Basically helping to protect and monitor the reefs as well as foster sustainable use of the reefs for tourism. I founded a marine and turtle rescue center funded by ytlhotels.

FWS: Large percentages of fish and other marine life depend on coral reefs and live near coastal regions. Can you expound to drive it home for us why these places are of utmost importance to the food web and it’s supporting environment?

Scott: About 25 percent of all fish depend on reefs for food and shelter at some stage in their life cycle. Its importance lies in that the majority if people in these regions depend on reefs as their primary food source.

FWS: What is the number one cause of coral reef destruction? Can this be remediated?

Scott: Habitat degradation, due to coastal development through water pollution and sedimentation, can lead to dead zones.

FWS: What is Coral seeding? Can Coral Seeding have long-term benefits for marine life and can these benefits persist despite climate change?

Scott: Coral planting is reintroducing live corals to a dead or damaged reef that can have long-term benefits; re climate change is yet to be seen.

FWS: How does climate change affect coral reefs? I’ve learned some coral reefs have it in their DNA to protect themselves against rising and high temperatures like 97°, is there a notice in the science communities of coral reef bodies shifting with weather patterns and uncertainties?

Scott: Increase temp can lead to coral bleaching and death. If climate change is gradual they can shift but also yet to be seen.

FWS: Do coral reefs differ based on regions and the animals that depend on them?

Scott: Reefs differ based on environmental factors;

A. There are fringing reefs, which are near land and follow the shoreline.

B. Barrier reefs, that is offshore usually near big drop offs.

C. and Atolls, which are isolated islands built entirely of coral of thousands of years with a lagoon in the center.
Coral types will vary by biotope, with light, current, and water quality defining what corals become dominant.

FWS: What can we do as a people to protect coral reefs and acknowledge their importance?

Scott: Try and avoid buying reef fish for food, and home aquariums.

FWS: Can artificial reefs assist in stabilizing marine life populations that depend on coral reefs in the long term?

Scott: Yes by providing a habitat for fish and corals.

FWS: With artificial reefs are there artificial caves since natural reefs and caves support marine life and each other?

Scott: Depending on the artificial reef type, they will have caves of various sizes the largest of which are shipwrecks.

view-of-tun-sakaran-marine-park-semporna-islandFor well over 50 years the Tun Sakaran Marine Park in Sabah, Malaysia has experienced fish bombing. A devastating practice which could not only harm the fishermen’s physical health and other fishermen’s economic well being but damage coral reefs and affect the lives of many marine animals in the process. Recently, using a passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) device fish bombing in the area can be detected in real time and immediately brought to the attention of park rangers using their mobile phones. The technology system will act as a tracking measure. The hope of the program is to eliminate the practice of fish bombing in the Marine Park and stop perpetrators in their tracks. This project is managed by the Marine Conservation Society and is funded by the Save Our Seas Foundation.

 

Thanks to Scott Maybach and Elizabeth Wood, Program Lead for the Eliminating Fish Bombing project for information in support of this post.

For more information on the Save Our Seas program:

http://saveourseas.com/projects/combating_destructive_fishing_my

For information on Coral Reefs:

http://saveourseas.com/projects/combating_destructive_fishing_my

For more information on Coral Reefs and what’s happening with seeding them:

http://tracc-borneo.org/conservation-projects/coral-reef-restoration/

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