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Thread: Status and Trends of Bonaire’s Reefs: Cause for Grave Concerns (BNMP 2011 Report)

  1. #11
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    smits, I agree completely that we are part of the problem, in a general, global sense, and that overpopulation is the source of many of our ecological difficulties. But that is not wht this thread is about.

    My "locals overfishing" comments are related only to the decline of the local parrotfish. They have been fishing them for generations, but that does not mean they should! If the parrot fish are in decline, and if that is a serious problem for Bonaire's reefs (the point of this thread, after all), then the fishing needs to stop, and to be enforced. On Bonaire, this might mean some other ways to ensure subsistence for the locals......but if they keep taking parrotfish, then their children will not be able to fish....it is a death spiral for the reefs that is not unique to Bonaire.
    Mel Briscoe, Alexandria, Virginia

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    When we were on the Island last April, it was the Easter weekend and I believe it is when locals can camp anywhere they want. My most fav dive site was turned into ruins with the shacks they put up. Local families who were living there were constantly catching reef fish. I have seen huge parrotfish being hacked into pieces. When I tried to get the camera and take pictures I was intimidated with a nice shiny blade. And fried in pans all day. Moving to present day, this December which is only 6+ mnths later, I saw no big parrot fishes or even the huge angel fishes we admired previous 2 trips.. very sad... I am already reading chatter in other forums that some people are changing destinations due to state of reef and marine life.

  3. #13
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    Default "We have met the enemy and he is us." -Pogo-

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptNick View Post
    I am already reading chatter in other forums that some people are changing destinations due to state of reef and marine life.
    The collective and individual perceptions of situation perplex me, as do some of the responses. Similar to CaptNick's observation, last month I met experienced divers on Bonaire who, after 2 weeks of diving sites north and south, were disappointed and felt that the reefs were almost completely dead! (Equally unfortunate was that they intend to go elsewhere next year, rather than expend time or energy towards understanding or improving the problem.) On the other end of the spectrum are optimistic and/or new divers who report that the Bonaire's reefs are in great shape, despite sharing photos and videos evidence to the contrary. Personally I believe the truth is somewhere in between, as detailed in the recent BNMP report. There is still much beauty to be found on Bonaire's reefs, but they are in distress.

    The tourism industry is not helping matters. Dive travel magazines, which are dependent on advertising dollars, continue to post rave reviews, beautiful photos, and rankings based on subscriber "votes". The resorts advertise in the magazines, build web pages and blog, leverage Facebook, and otherwise work hard to create a positive public perception in order to attract divers to their businesses. The cruise ship industry follows similar practices. And the Bonaire Tourism Corporation creates a similar "positive presence" to support all of the above, plus anything else having to do with generating tourism revenue on Bonaire. This is all part of the Tourism Machine.

    The unfortunate downside is that all of these businesses and supporting organizations measure success via revenue and business growth calculated today. They're reluctant to acknowledge, much less communicate to potential clients, that there may be trouble in paradise. I'd like to believe that it's not that they don't care about Bonaire's delicate ecosystem. Most of them live on Bonaire, and I prefer to believe that they do care very much. Either way the reality seems to be that their short-term business goals result in actions that are equivalent to sweeping the proverbial dirt under the carpet.

    To be sure, global warming and rising sea temperatures won't be affected by behavioral changes at a local level on tiny Bonaire. The best they can hope for is enough small changes in human behavior to address peripheral influencing factors. Examples include efficient wastewater collection and treatment, shipping garbage off-island, enforcing fishing regulations on the reefs, and continued lionfish depredation efforts by authorized divers. I'm sure there's probably more. But measurable improvement in reef health isn't likely to occur in the near-term if the diving community, tourism industry, and government won't admit there is a real problem that requires action tomorrow. Similarly, everyone affected has to admit that tough times require tough measures, and that these measures are going to cost money. Somebody has to pay sooner or later. The Pied-Piper is in Bonaire today. His name is Tourism.

    If willing, members of the BT community can help today by redirecting some of the hours spent posting webcam pics, playing games, and reviewing restaurants towards pondering this problem. I encourage you to educate yourselves, consider your personal actions, and spread the message that Bonaire needs help soon. (I think they call this "spreading awareness".)

    -Roger

    P.S. - If anyone on Bonaire attended Ramon de Leon's lecture at CIEE tonight, I'd love to hear how it was received!

  4. #14
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    Apparently the idea that algae accumulation due to reductions in parrotfish abundance (due to over fishing) is not shared by all. Check this link and the lively discussion that follows at the bottom of the page... http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/c...ll/message/231. Their message is that warming ocean temperatures and nutrients are the real culprit.

  5. #15
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    People seem to try awfully hard to find "the" culprit, the single thing that went wrong, the one thing to fix.
    That's not how it works. It's a whole bunch of stuff, all in balance, and usually several things have to go wrong before things go sour. Everything everybody has mentioned is a problem: global warming, too many nutrients (a nice word for fertilizer plus you know what), loss of critical species of fish, coral diseases, invasive predators (yes, the lionfish), divers, boat anchors, the list goes on and on.

    The ecological system is surprisingly resilient. Changing an element in the balance of effects might shift the balance a little.....too much warming and the exact species of animals and algae shift, but the system rarely dies. Change everything however, and it is harder -- or impossible -- for the ecosystem to sustain itself. Adaptation to change works, but only such much change can be adapted to in a short time.

    There are pretty well-understood indicators of danger (that each might have several reasons to occur): extended bleaching, algae growth, disappearance of certain species and appearance of others, for example. The Stinapa report focused on some of the danger signs, in particular those that were not locally driven...like global warming. Bonaire is not the source of global warming, so that is a safe danger to talk about. Others -- nutrients and local over fishing -- are either downplayed or mentioned only in euphemisms. The article was pretty clear that declining parrotfish populations is a problem. Very likely it would NOT be a problem were it not for the extra algae, driven by the bleaching, fueled by the nutrients, etc.

    In the end, Bonaire can only control what it can control, adapt to what it can adapt to, and hope it all stays in balance in such a way that local subsistence fishing can continue, divers keep coming, and the sun keeps shining. But hope is not a strategy, and the danger signs have to be taken seriously. All of them. You do not know which straw is the last one......
    Mel Briscoe, Alexandria, Virginia

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    If only there were a magic wand.... Though I agree hope is not a strategy, I will still continue to hope for some real positive changes to some real negative problems, and will hope that somehow, someway Bonaire's reef system will thrive once again. And hope that we can, in some way, help to make this possible!

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    Azureblue is offline Bonaire Lover Bonaire Talker
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    I don't give a damn about the restaurants, or webcams that's for sure. I did enjoy Captain Nick's post very much. I've been all over this website and have found different environmental grass roots movements happening, sea turtle conservation, the coral nurseries etc.., but for an island dependent economically on the reef and tourism, and supposedly on the environmental forefront, it is odd that there doesn't seem to be a center, a single organization or person who heads up the many who have these concerns. We have a second home in Kralendijk, but don't live there most of the year. I would like to write some letters regarding the Maryland Study and other, earlier studies.. Also, has anyone thought of a Parrotfish nursery?? WHERE to I write letters to people in government? Since the mail takes 8-10 weeks from the U.S., is there a person who receives emails on behalf of the powers that be? Preaching to the choir will only get you so far.... I would like to take more concrete action.

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    R.I.P. Angel City. Visited Week of Oct. 20th

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    Good Wednesday afternoon everybody. I was just on the Bonaire Reporter and they have a piece on page 4 about what might happen to our beautiful Bonaire if the Dutch Govt has their way. It's an interesting article on over tourism and over development that is a little like when Aruba changed.

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