In spite of improved management practices – Florida’s coral reefs are still suffering, and near death. That’s according to a recent report in the journal Science. When established in 1997, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary was the largest in the U-S. But according to the Director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography – professor John Ogden – the protection it affords doesn’t address other serious issues contributing to reef decline. Ogden co-authored the report in Science – which points to 3 issues facing reefs: over fishing, pollution, and global climate change.
He says looking for one, simple solution is shortsighted - and that a more comprehensive approach is necessary.
“…there isn’t one thing. There’s at least 2 things in the Florida Keys that have to be done…the creation of adequate areas of protection, and the control of land-based pollution sources. And then there is reasonable scientific evidence that says if we can do those things maybe we can have a system that is more resilient to the third which we’re not going to be able to control by any management plan applied in the Florida Keys.”
Florida has lost more than a third of its reefs in the past 15 years…and another third are at serious risk. Ogden says the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is doing a good job of protecting reefs from over fishing – but that’s not enough to stem the decline. He says if land-based pollution sources aren’t better addressed, the future looks grim for Florida’s reefs.
The report in Science says coral reefs provide more than a billion dollar impact on Florida’s economy. Ogden says by putting a dollar value on the issue, the hope is to get the attention of policy makers.
“I mean, here we are losing these systems before our very eyes, and we haven’t gotten organized enough in our political will and lobbying to make that loss significant enough in the halls of power where it has to make sense.”
Ogden says not even the events of 1997 created political momentum. That’s when a massive number of reefs were bleached worldwide. Bleaching is when corals die because water temperatures get too high…killing the reef.
Monday, 11 April 2005 01:00