Friday, August 22, 2014

Protecting Parrotfish Can Help Save Reefs

Excellent report and short video available on how to protect coral reefs, based on forty years of research in the Caribbean. 

Based on over 40 years of research in the Caribbean, Dr Jeremy Jackson, senior advisor on coral reefs for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, writes:

"We already know that protecting parrotfish and other herbivores from fishing can, in turn, protect healthy reefs. The stunning Flower Garden Banks in the northern Gulf of Mexico are protected by their United States National Marine Sanctuary status, which prohibits the use of fish traps and parrotfish fishing. Bermuda has an even longer history of banning fish traps and spearfishing. And Bonaire, with an entirely tourist-based economy that is reliant on the health of their reefs, has long restricted fishing. A brief breakdown in these protections resulted in an immediate decline in the health of Bonaire’s reefs, which triggered a quick reinstatement of protections. 

But reefs where parrotfish are unprotected have suffered tragic declines. These “Failure Reefs” are places where a variety of local human impacts have been allowed to run unchecked: not just by overfishing but also by overuse for recreation, excessive and destructive coastal development, and pollution. The worst of these include Jamaica, the entire Florida Reef Tract from Miami to Key West, and the U.S. Virgin Islands."