The Interconnection of Coral Reefs - 11/12/09 02:56 PM
Today the result of a four year study by foreign scientist from Canada and the United States were revealed at a fisheries workshop. The survey focused on how corals, and marine life interconnect and how the relationship helps to protect marine protected areas. The findings were presented to the regional managers of these protected marine areas to help them use the information in their daily decision making of management in the marine protected areas. According to Isaias Majil, the Marine Protected Areas Coordinator for the Fisheries Department during their studies underwater the scientists made some startling revelations that confirmed that management must be done from a local and regional level.
Isaias Majil, Marine Protected Areas Coordinator – Fisheries
“In Belize our reefs are very very well interconnected. For example from Glover’s Reef we are seeing that the larvae of corals are actually recruiting around the Hol-Chan Marine Reserve. So we have that that one reserve supports another which has been the idea of creating a network of marine protected areas.
It is the relationship that they share, it is like one area would support larvae to another. Say for example a non-protected area would supply areas that are not protected so that is the reason, the importance of having these protected areas to continue with these larvae dispersal.”
“And how important is this for our marine ecosystem?”
“Well what we found out also is that we don’t only are interconnected locally, we are regionally connected. For example we are getting a lot of larvae actually from Honduras. We’ve supplied Mexico with some of the larvae. The larvae from Mexico also supplies us with different species. So locally what we need to do is we have to understand that we cannot just manage at a local level, we need to manage at a regional level.
This happens through the currents, the different currents that exist. For example at certain times of the year the flows up north or it comes south and all of these larvae, whenever the species are reproduced, the currents are what dictate more or less where these larvae would go.”
“Mr. Majil you know of recently there have been much talk about damage to the reef. How does this affect the work you guys are trying to do?”
“Well actually what was shown is the very importance of us maintaining the reef system as pristine as possible because if we don’t, it will affect in that the recruitment throughout reef will be affected tremendously and one of the other things is that they are all interrelated like the lobsters need the reefs and the study shows that for example in Turneffe is one of the very important areas that are producing the larvae. Say for example in Caye Caulker and San Pedro, which are very important fishing industries in that area.
Whenever we damage we have very huge impacts on the reefs. We depend on pristine areas to produce larvae so we have some sort of recuperation in the long term. So if these things we are not protecting them and we’re making them disappear then eventually we will lose the entire reef.”
“So basically you are killing the food supply.”
According to Isaias Majil, damage to the reef not only cuts off food supply to marine life but the reef is also a service provider in that it protects the coast from erosion and all of those things we will lose and eventually natural disasters like hurricanes resulting in greater impacts. The four year study was done in conjunction with the Fisheries Department.Channel 7