Enhancing Coral Reef Resilience and Restoration Success: Lessons Learned from Laolao Bay, Saipan and Maunalua Bay, Oahu.

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2018-08
Authors
Macduff, Sean D. G.
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Zoology
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Coral reefs worldwide are suffering from multiple local and global stressors such as land-based sources of pollution, invasive species, overfishing, ocean warming, and ocean acidification. With local and global threats on the rise, coral reef managers are turning to ecosystem-level restoration projects for greater ecological impact. These projects usually require supplemental funding, strong partnerships, and take years to complete. Groups working in Laolao Bay, Saipan and Maunalua Bay, Oahu obtained funding to conduct such ecosystem-level restoration work. Both projects aimed to restore marine resources and ecosystems by improving water and habitat quality by addressing land-based sources of pollution and invasive alien algae issues. Specifically, practitioners in Laolao Bay Saipan attempted to address land-based erosion by restoring the Laolao watershed through revegetation, improving the Laolao Bay road infrastructure, and through outreach. Personnel working in Maunalua Bay Oahu, attempted to address the invasive species problem by manually removing 11 hectares of the invasive alga, Avrainvillea amadelpha, at Paiko reef flat and through successful community engagement. I measured the effectiveness of both ecosystem restoration projects by quantifying coral physiological response to land-based restoration activities in Laolao Bay, and by quantifying the amount of resuspendible sediment present during and after algae removal in Maunalua Bay. Both projects were successful and achieved initial results. In Laolao Bay, watershed restoration activities resulted in reduction in erosion and in improved coral health at deeper sites. In Maunalua Bay, removal of A. amadelpha, resulted in fine sediment mobilization and flushing. Both projects incorporated communities at different levels and underwent the conservation action plan (CAP) process. Those supporting efforts to insure the future of coral reefs need to incorporate and address the complex social issues surrounding such an important resource. Science and management will always play an important role, but to implement successful, sustained conservation actions, human compliance is often required. Humans are often viewed as the problem (rightfully so in numerous examples), but should also be viewed as the solution. It is possible to use science and management and instill conservation beliefs in communities and achieve sustained conservation success. The future of coral reefs requires resilient ecological AND social systems.
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