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Direct Anthropogenic Threats to Malaysian Corals

Praveena, S.M., Siraj, S.S. and Aris, A.Z. 2012. Coral reefs studies and threats in Malaysia: a mini review. Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology 11: 27-39.
In a paper that appeared in Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology, Praveena et al. (2012) discuss the many anthropogenic threats to the wellbeing of Malaysian corals, among which they list the following: (1) over-fishing, (2) blasting fish with dynamite, (3) capturing fish with cyanide, (4) increased sediment loading, (5) land clearing, (6) subsequent runoff, (7) direct flow of human sewage into the sea, (8) urban pollution, (9) industrial pollution, (10) heavy metal pollution, (11) rare earth pollution, (12) over-development in coastal zones, (13) sand mining, (14) uncontrolled scuba diving, (15) high density shipping lane traffic, and (16) actually bombing areas that contain corals.

With all of these localized anthropogenic threats to their existence, it would seem a wonder that there are any corals at all that yet remain in the regions of the three researchers' survey, as well as elsewhere around the world. And viewed from this perspective, it can be appreciated that the phenomenon of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, if anything, is merely "the straw that broke the camel's back." So what should individuals, cities, states and nations be doing about the situation?

For one thing, we need to start at the bottom of the pile of problems we have created for corals, where we actually can do something to significantly reduce the burdens we have laid upon them, rather than attempting to remove the "straw" from off their backs, which they could probably do quite well themselves, if they were not burdened with the other host of assaults we have leveled against them.

We should, for example, be able to not over-fish. And we can probably take our specified limit of sea life without having to blast with dynamite or apply cyanide. And do we have to dump our sewage directly into the sea?

Then there are the various types of anthropogenic-produced pollution that weaken nearby reefs. We should be doing a better job of controlling this menace for our own sake, as well as the corals. In addition, we don't have to over-develop our coastal zones; some must be left for nature. And we should be able to strike a reasonable balance between the two.

As for "uncontrolled scuba diving," how about controlled scuba diving? Or at least reasonably monitored scuba diving? If we don't do something to deal with this problem, we shortly won't have it anymore, for there will be no reason for scuba diving if there is nothing of interest left to see beneath the waves.

And finally, in the words of John Lennon, let's "give peace a chance," so that we won't have the collateral damage to corals that is produced by bombs exploding over them.

Archived 2 October 2012