Saturday, August 29, 2009

Reef check - Papua New Guinea's participation in a global assessment of human effects on coral reefs.

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Villagers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have used coral reefs for thousands of years. Recent human development in PNG has altered the use of coral reefs. Today more reefs are fished commercially, used by tourist divers, and impacted by coastal logging and mining companies. While the state of the reefs may be known locally, there has been no general assessment of the human effects on the coral reefs. Using Reef Check protocol developed by Dr. G. Hodson, students at the University of Papua New Guinea have been conducting surveys on coral reefs. To do this the students needed to be taught: 1) the use of a mask and snorket, 2) scuba diving skills, and 3) marine survey skills. Twenty-five students have received PADI open water certification. Advanced student divers conducted surveys of over 20 reefs. The results indicate that while human impact is obvious on some reefs, most of the reefs surveyed are in excellent shape with a high percentange live coral cover. PNG reefs are among the least disturbed reefs in the global Reef Check survey. Few crown of thorns starfish were observed. There is need to develop a well-funded coral reef monitoring program using national biologists in association with a community based marine awareness effort. Presently, many non government conservation organizations (NGOs) are engaged in colonial conservation activities. Their adgenda is directed by a foreign membership that fund marine biodiversity surveys using foreign experts. These activities contribute little to the development of local skills and technology transfer. The discovery of new animals by foreign scientists effectively removes the possibility of future discovery by national scientists. Relationships between colonial NGOs and national tertiary education institutions need to be improved.

Source Citation:QUINN, N.J. "Reef check - Papua New Guinea's participation in a global assessment of human effects on coral reefs." American Zoologist 40.6 (Dec 2000): 1181. Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 29 Aug. 2009

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