Coral Reef + Cruise Ship= Conservation?


The need to find creative ways to protect coral reefs has never been greater. Human activity is causing coral die-offs faster than previously thought. In the Caribbean, studies are showing that coral may be heading toward extinction. Increased ocean acidification has been further eroding fragile reefs, and warmer sea-surface temperatures are causing even more damage. Fortunately, as with so many environmental issues, there are also signs of hope. Artificial corals are being grown in the Red Sea, and "Bio-Rock" treatment is being used to restore once lush reefs in Indonesia and elsewhere.

However, any real plan to protect coral reef must include the cruise industry, which is a significant source of negative impacts due to traffic, waste-disposal and other pollution. Fortunately, according to dot Earth, "the cruise ship industry, Mexican government, and Conservation International have announced a plan to try to protect coral reefs and other ecosystems in Cozumel, the world’s most-visited cruise destination." The plan has four main goals: environmental awareness and education; improved management of the infrastructure for tourism; ensuring that environmental laws are enforced; and protecting the reef itself. Still, it's not entirely clear how those goals are going to be met, as the plan is light on details, but getting all the stakeholders to the table is a good start.The real potential for change here is that "all cruises will slowly become more like eco-tourism operations, where passengers don’t merely come ashore to buy trinkets and get sunburns, but to learn something about a barrier reef or mangrove forest." Many years ago I took a cruise with my family to Mexico, and the only attempt to protect the reef came in the form of an admonition not to wear sunblock (because certain types damage the reef), which no one followed anyways. So it's good to see some change in that area.

Of course, the cruise industry is probably on board with this proposal because, well, no coral reef=no reason for tourists to take a cruise to see it. Conservation International envisions

an investment of approximately $3.5 million over five years into the different facets of this ambitious project. Essentially, we believe for the first time, we are trying to take on the negative effects of mass tourism at the largest scale and engaging the key actors to turn tourism around from being a primary threat to the World’s second largest barrier reef (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia) and instead to be a driver for the long term conservation of this natural wonder. If we can get it right here, in perhaps the largest mass tourism destination in the World then we will prove to skeptics that all tourism can be managed sustainably and with the protection of nature and the well being of local people being assured rather than just high-end ecotourism

Via: ::Dot Earth (NY Times Blog)

See Also: ::The Ok Coral Corral, ::Melting Coral Epidemic Sparked by Warming Oceans, ::Unintended Side Effects for Corals, ::The Value of Coral Reefs: Saving Nemo and the Economy, ::Planetary Coral Reef Foundation: The Canary is Dead, and ::Dolphin Friendly Radisson Cruises

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