GCRA Wishes a
Happy New Year 2018
Please support the GCRA Year-End
Fund Raising Campaign
2017 GCRA Yearly Report
Thomas J. F. Goreau, PhD
President, Global Coral Reef Alliance
Corals continued dying around the world in 2017 from global warming, pollution, and disease, and GCRA continued to show policymakers and the public the severity of the damage and to pioneer regenerative solutions. GCRA will accelerate its efforts in 2018.
GCRA’s Indonesia coral reef restoration projects continued to lead the world in 2017. Our Balinese partner, Yayasan Karang Lestari, recipient of the 2012 United Nations Equator Award for Community-Based Development, was selected for special honors at the 2017 World Ocean Day Event at the UN Oceans Conference for turning their village from the poorest in Bali to one of the most prosperous by restoring their coral reef. Last year, corals on Biorock reefs in Indonesia survived when severe bleaching killed almost all the corals around them, and Biorock reefs grew back a severely eroded Sulawesi beach in just a few months by growing corals and seagrasses in front of Pulau Gangga Dive Resort. Biorock Indonesia teams continued to manage around 300 Biorock reefs, start many new ones, and train new teams to start projects all across Indonesia. See 2017 Biorock Indonesia training workshop clips below:
Biorock coral restoration projects were maintained at several locations in the Panama Caribbean. One of the finest coral reefs left in the Caribbean, with exceptionally large ancient corals, was studied in the Guna Comarca (Indigenous Territories). Another reef with high live coral cover was found right in front of the Panama Canal breakwaters, and efforts are underway with local environmental groups to save this reef from being killed soon by dredging for a container port.
The first new Biorock reef restoration projects in Jamaica in 25 years were started near the last ones. A coral nursery growing elkhorn coral was established. This coral used to form huge forests at this site, but all vanished decades ago. The project is very small because of the tiny amount of coral now available to propagate, but will expand quickly as it grows rapidly. The best reef left in Jamaica was filmed, and efforts re-started with the local community to get it protected and managed locally.
New coral reef restoration projects were developed for early 2018 with local partners in Grenada, Mexico, Indonesia, Panama, Bahamas, and Vanuatu. These will incorporate new advances in Biorock Technology, and feature use of CCell wave energy devices to protect eroding shores and grow beaches back. See announcement.
GCRA researchers published a paper in the Journal of Animal Behavior showing electrical fields around Biorock structures inhibit sharks from biting but have no effect on other fishes. Available here. The tiny electrical field confuses sharks so they don’t bite. Biorock coral reef restoration projects can help protect people and sharks from harming each other.
Biorock oyster and saltmarsh restoration projects in cold waters continued at our toxic waste sites in New York City, and a short experiment was done to test applicability in San Francisco Bay.
Research projects were started with the University of Aalborg in Denmark, and the University of the Basque Country in Spain focusing on the chemistry, physics, and engineering properties of the materials produced by the Biorock process.
Tom Goreau spoke on large-scale community-managed marine ecosystem restoration at the United Nations Oceans Conference in New York, and at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn. His paper on the factors controlling the rate of CO2 drawdown to reverse climate change was published in the Proceedings of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Global Conference on Soil Organic Carbon in Rome. He also participated in international conferences on agricultural regeneration in Mexico, on regenerative development to reverse climate change in London, and on re-greening of the Sinai Desert in the Netherlands.
GCRA filmed an interview by Tom Goreau with Professor Robert Kent Trench, the world’s top expert on coral symbiosis, looking at the oldest coral reef photographs from Belize and discussing the changes. Tom Goreau featured in two full-length documentary films that are now in final production stages for release in 2018. One film directed by Marcy Cravat will be on soil carbon and reversing climate change, the other by Andrew Nisker will be on environmental impacts of golf course chemicals. A new documentary was funded to start filming in 2018 on the historic GCRA Coral Reef Photograph Collection, the world’s largest from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, and the long-term changes they document.
GCRA researchers looked at a major collection of nearly a thousand corals from the Great Barrier Reef, made 50 years ago in 1967, but packed away in a museum without ever being identified or studied, and is assisting getting the corals documented and identified, along with the major taxonomic collections of Caribbean corals.
GCRA proudly announces the GCRA Coral Classics Series, with the first volume to be posted in early 2018 being A STUDY OF THE BIOLOGY AND HISTOCHEMISTRY OF CORALS, the foundational work of coral biology and coral reef ecology. This masterpiece by Thomas F. Goreau, the world’s first diving marine scientist and founder of modern coral reef science, was his 1956 Yale University Ph.D. thesis. Although it is the essential starting point for all serious students of corals and coral reefs, it has long been unavailable. The GCRA publication includes all the original figures and photographic plates from the classic study of coral anatomy, ecology, and physiology available, newly re-edited individually for clarity.
TECHNICAL BRIEFING FOB INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE MEETINGS UNITED NATIONS.
NEW YORK. MAY 7 1992
MEMORANDUM: CAN WE AVOID ECOSYSTEM DAMAGE FROM CLIMATE CHANGE?
TO: INC NEGOTIATORS
FROM: Dr. Thomas J. Goreau, President, GCRA
1. IPCC projections for future climate change are based on assumed sensitivities of temperature and sea level to carbon dioxide increase that are 1O times less, and 1250 times less respectively, than have actually taken place in the past. The last time global temperatures were 1-2 degrees C above today’s values, sea level was 5-8 meters higher, compared to the 0.1 to 0.3 meters projected by IPCC. These observed changes imply that current projections may seriously underestimate potential long-term rises in sea level and temperature.
2. Coral reefs around the world are bleaching from heat shock stress and corals are increasingly dying as episodes increase in frequency and intensity. Bleaching took place after “hot spots”, regions of ocean temperature 1 degree C above normal, hit reef areas during the hottest months. Mass bleaching was unknown before the 1980s. Reefs which have escaped hot spots by luck are certain to be damaged if they continue. Major components of tropical marine biodiversity, fisheries, tourism, and shore protection are at serious risk from global warming.
3. Halting global warming requires stabilization of C02 concentrations in the atmosphere, not just stabilizing emissions. This requires both reduced supply of C02 to the atmosphere from fossil fuels and increased removal of C02 by protecting remaining forests and reforesting currently degraded areas. Simultaneous supply and demand-side measures are needed. Rapid global increase in biomass is essential because this is the only practical measure which can significantly reduce C02 concentrations within decades. Even drastic emissions reductions require over a century to have major impacts on C02 levels. Reforestation and increased energy efficiency together can affordably stabilize C02, providing an interim measure until non C02-producing energy sources replace fossil fuels.
4. Forest protection is not a sectoral issue. Boreal forests are the most efficient carbon sinks because they hold on to carbon for the longest in wood and soil. Tropical forests are inefficient, they hold on to carbon for a short time before returning it to the atmosphere. However, increased tropical forest cover is also critical because it is the most important ecosystem for reducing the atmospheric lifetime of C02 and the total heat each additional molecule adds to the atmosphere. Global warming will make all forests less efficient carbon sinks. Oceans are an extremely inefficient sink, unless they are dangerously polluted.
5. The Convention at present Is Inadequate to protect coral reefs from climate change. It requires stronger commitments to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Global, long-term, wholistic thinking Is needed on all sides now before it is too late to save and restore reefs and forests.
The remaining coral reefs of Barbuda, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Anguilla, Tortola and the British Virgin Islands, Grand Turk, Cuba, Dominica, and Puerto Rico have all been devastated in recent weeks by direct hits from the eye of the strongest hurricanes on record. Having dived extensively around all of these islands except for Anguilla, none of these areas had remaining shallow reefs in good condition before the event. The question now is how quickly they will recover?
The first study of hurricane impacts on coral reefs was after Hurricane Charlie, which devastated Jamaica in 1951, and tore the roof off of our home. After the hurricane, my father dived in the reefs and found large areas of shallow elkhorn and staghorn coral smashed to rubble, and large old coral heads cracked and toppled (Goreau, 1956). By the mid 1950s, about half of the reef had grown back (see photo below), and by the late 1950s there were almost no traces of the damage visible because vigorous coral settlement and growth rapidly colonized the damaged areas.
That is why we always said that healthy coral reefs could recover from near-total hurricane devastation in a decade or so (Goreau, Goreau, & Goreau, 1979). But Jamaican coral reefs never recovered from Hurricane Allen (1979), Gilbert (1989), and Ivan (2004) because by then the coral reef ecosystem’s intrinsic internal biological resilience had already been destroyed by stresses exceeding their capacity to adapt.
Bob Trench, Belize’s most famous scientist and the world’s top expert on coral symbiosis and I have recently looked at the oldest underwater photographs of Belize coral reefs taken in 1968, 7 years after the worst hurricane in Belize history, Hurricane Hattie, had devastated Belizean coral reefs and mangroves (Stoddart, 1963). These include the reefs that Bob grew up on fishing before Hurricane Hattie. The elkhorn and staghorn zones had already largely recovered at that point. So in the 1960s, Belize reefs, like Jamaican reefs in the 1950s, were still able to recover from devastating physical damage in a decade.
Recovery on this scale is now completely impossible because global warming, nutrient pollution, and diseases have degraded or destroyed the capacity of the most critical ecosystem framework-building coral species to survive or recover from. Dead areas destroyed by hurricanes now stay dead, are overgrown by weedy algae indicating sewage pollution, or are colonized by communities of weedy coral species, which most people confuse with real coral reefs because they have never seen one.
The old massive coral reef walls that surrounded most Caribbean islands when I was a boy still remain as a dead reef in only a few lucky spots where they have not yet been torn apart by bio-erosion and wave forces, but they have completely vanished in most places, where there is no trace remaining of the magnificent reefs that once stood there.
Coral reefs were resilient and would spring back in devastated areas on decadal scales in the old days only because there was no human-caused climate change, pollution, and new diseases. That was because devastation by storms or dredging were brief in time and space, and damaged areas grew right back from the healthy reef all around the damaged areas. Now there is no healthy surrounding reef, and no spatial or temporal refuges left from high temperatures, pollutants, and pathogens that are accelerating everywhere.
It is time that the bogus fraud of “coral reef resilience” be buried forever. This vile lie, based on invincible ignorance of fundamental coral biology, has been pimped for the last 30 years by governments and Big International NGOs (BINGOs) in order to prevent efforts to eliminate the real root causes of coral reef destruction, and to prevent serious efforts to restore them, thereby deliberately sentencing coral reefs to death from preventable causes.
Here in Jamaica it is in the earliest and mildest phases, with only the most sensitive colonies of the three most sensitive species showing paling. Temperatures in Jamaica were only briefly above the HotSpot levels, and have cooled since, so bleaching is not likely to be noticeable to anyone else unless the waters warm up again in the next few weeks.
There has been no noticeable change in coral bleaching thresholds for 30 years, and therefore no signs of adaptation, but we are steadily losing the most vulnerable species so there is less to bleach.
In Panama, which lies in the core of the Goreau-Hayes Coral Bleaching HotSpot (below) bleaching will be much more noticeable. Reefs in the Panamanian Caribbean bleached earlier this year when the HotSpot first developed, recovered to some degree following mild cooling in mid year, and are now bleaching yet again for a second time this year. Impacts could be severe as they bleached last year and the year before as well, though not severely enough to cause much mortality.
Curaçao, Bonaire, Belize, Honduras, Colombia, and many other parts of the Caribbean are likely to bleach in the next few weeks unless there is dramatic cooling.
As usual, there have been no reports of bleaching from the areas all across the Pacific that were most devastated by high temperatures this year.
Severe bleaching is certain to be ongoing in the Ryukyus, the Marianas, Palau, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap, but dive shops have simply stopped reporting bleaching…………
Or perhaps it is because NOAA declared that “the bleaching event is now over”?
Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse marine ecosystems and provide vital ecosystem services. Global warming, deteriorating water quality, overharvesting, and other threats are accelerating coral reef decline. An innovative coral reef restoration method, invented by Prof. Wolf Hilbertz and Dr. Tom Goreau, Biorock® technology, uses electricity to make corals to grow faster and healthier, and survive lethal bleaching temperatures.
A study entitled “The effects of Biorock-associated electric fields on the Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi)and the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas)” just published in ANIMAL BIOLOGY by Marcella Uchoa, Craig O’Connell and Tom Goreau investigated how electric fields associated with Biorock reefs influence behavior of sharks and bony fishes. It is well known that sharks can feel extremely weak electrical fields through specialized electroreceptors called ampullae of Lorenzini.
They studied behavioral responses of two shark species, the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) and the Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) and several bony fish species towards weak electric fields in Bimini, Bahamas. Statistical analyses of 90 trials found both shark species fed the least, and avoided bait food they knew was there, when the electric field was turned on. Sharks approached the bait yet completely missed and exhibited signs of disorientation. Since detection of electric fields by sharks is important in the final phases of prey capture, Biorock generated electric fields clearly confused them. In contrast, bony fish feeding behavior was not affected by the electrical field.
This study demonstrates a need for future studies with more species of shark and fish species around Biorock electrical reef restoration projects, since deterrence of sharks, as top predators, may impact ecosystem balance”, said Marcella Uchoa, a Brazilian student who did the study for her Masters Degree in the RIMER Erasmus Mundi Marine Science Program at the University of the Basque Country, Spain. “Since this initial study demonstrated that Biorock reefs elicit close-range shark deterrent responses, further testing is warranted to assess the ability for these systems to serve as either a personalized shark deterrent or a shoreline bather protection system” said Craig O’Connell, head of the O’Seas Conservation Foundation, which specializes in shark behavior and conservation. Tom Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance added that “Biorock electric reefs could benefit humans and sharks as well as corals and fishes. The electrical fields inhibit attacks in the vicinity of restoration projects, but would not affect sharks further away, so it helps preserve coral reefs, fishes, humans, and sharks at the same time, while avoiding the damage and bycatch from nets, baited hooks on lines, and poisons”.
For more information please contact: info (think) globalcoral.org
Biorock coral reef restoration in Pemuteran is shown in this paper to have strong support of all sectors of the community because restoration of the economic, environmental, and ecosystem services the reef provides have transformed their way of life from the poorest village in Bali to one of the most prosperous.
Coral reef restoration projects have been conducted worldwide to increase the viability of damaged coral reef ecosystems. Most failed to show significant results. A few have succeeded and gained international recognition for their great benefits to ecosystem services. This study evaluated reef restoration projects in North-west Bali from the perspective of the local community over the past 16 years. As community participation is a critical support system for coral reef restoration projects, the contributing factors which led to high community participation and positive perceptions are examined. Social surveys and statistical analysis were used to understand the correlations between community perception and participation. The findings showed a positive correlation between community perception and participation. The level of community participation also depended on how their work relates to coral reef ecosystems. They supported this project in many ways, from project planning to the religious ceremonies which they believe are fundamental to achieve a successful project. Several Balinese leaders became ‘the bridge’ between global science and local awareness. Without their leadership, this study argues that the project might not have achieved the significant local support that has restored both the environment and the tourism sector in North-West Bali.
June 29 2017
Thomas J. F. Goreau
In the 1950s Jamaica was surrounded by some of the finest coral reefs in the Caribbean, which were the first in the world to be studied by diving (Goreau & Goreau, 1959). These were almost all destroyed by eutrophication caused by untreated sewage, hurricanes, and dredging (Goreau, 1992) and have continued to deteriorate, causing a bottom up collapse of the fisheries due to lack of shelter and food, quite independently of top-down collapse caused by overharvesting.
Marine protected areas where the corals are dead and dying will not restore fisheries, so active restoration of the habitat to provide the fish with shelter and food is needed for the fish populations to recover.
New technologies to rapidly restore coral reefs were invented in Jamaica in 1987, but have been abandoned in Jamaica for 25 years due to lack of support and funding from both Jamaican and foreign institutions.
The Biorock electric reef restoration project at Westender Inn, Westmoreland, is the first new project using locally-invented technology in Jamaica for 25 years:
This tiny pilot project aims to show how community-managed groups can restore their coral reef and fisheries around Jamaica.
The project was set up in May, 2017. This report shows the first photographs of the new coral growth, taken in June 2017, after one month.
This area used to be a solid forest of elhorn coral reaching the surface, that you could not swim over (see photograph below of a typical Jamaican reef around 60 years ago). That forest of coral was smashed into dead rubble by hurricanes and has never recovered. While a few small corals have managed to settle, the reef has lost its structure, its biodiversity, and its ability to provide fish with shelter and food. Worse, the limestone bedrock below is being systematically excavated and eroded by dense populations of sea urchins. The very small Westender pilot project aims to turn a collapsed vanishing reef back into a lush growing one, full of fish.
Since there are so few elkhorn corals left, and since we use only naturally broken fragments found on the bottom, most of which are in poor condition, we could only find a handful of them to transplant onto the new Biorock reef. Most of these pieces were very small, but all are growing well.
The photos below show that all have recovered from the physical damage they had previously suffered and all are growing rapidly. Already new branches are forming, and the small white spots are new coral polyps showing extremely rapid coral growth. The corals can be seen to be already overgrowing and attaching themselves to the structure.
The small corals that have previously settled on the dead reef rock will grow faster, and so will the “good” algae, the calcareous branching algae that are the source of the beach sand. Greatly increased settlement of new corals will also become obvious in the coming year.
In May the steel framework attached over the dead reef rock was red and rusting. In June it has been completely covered by growing limestone rock. The spacing of the mesh, 6 inches or 15 centimeters, provides a scale. Fish immediately began to move in to the project site.
Photographs by Dan Brewer, except for the first, which was taken around 60 years ago by the late Prof. Thomas F. Goreau, founder of Jamaican coral reef science.
June 27 2017
Coral Reef, Sea Grass, and Mangrove Restoration Projects using Biorock Technology at Galeta Marine Laboratory, Colon, Panama
Preliminary Report and Recommendations
Thomas J. F. Goreau-Arango
Biorock electric coral reef, sea grass, and mangrove restoration project are underway at the Galeta Marine Laboratory. This cutting edge new technology greatly increases the settlement, growth, survival, and resistance to stress of all marine organisms (Goreau & Hilbertz, 2005; Goreau & Trench, 2014; Goreau 2014).
The restoration projects are a Memorial to the first Panamanian marine scientist, Dra. Nora Isabel Arango de Urriola y Goreau, 1921-2016:
They were built and installed in 2015 by two Panamanian divers, Gabriel Despaigne Ceballos, President of Diving Contractors Panama SA, and Dr. Thomas Joaquin Goreau-Arango, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance. The coral projects are visible on live camera at the Galeta Laboratory web site:
It is crucial for the corals to have the extra energy provided by the Biorock process before coral bleaching affects Panama, which is expected soon since temperatures there have reached bleaching levels unusually early in the year. Biorock corals show up to 50 times (5,000%) higher survival after severe bleaching.
Results to date show that all coral species are have grown very well on the Biorock reef (Agaricia tenuifolia, Porites astreoides, Porites divaricata, Montastrea (Orbicella) annularis, Siderastrea siderea, Stephanocoenia intersepta).
In contrast only one coral species is doing very well on the control structure, Porites divaricata, while the other species have shown considerable mortality.
The Biorock structure is not rusting, and is growing limestone rock over the steel, becoming thicker and stronger with age. The control structure is rusting, becoming thinner and weaker with age. Eventually the control structure will collapse, and then any surviving corals should be transplanted to the Biorock structure.
Fish constantly move between the reef structures and the surrounding areas, so they are hard to count. However there appear to be more fishes, and especially more juvenile fishes, in and around the Biorock structure than the control structure.
Both the seagrass and mangrove projects had good growth of minerals on them. The seagrass bed on the reef flat was badly damaged by sedimentation during recent boat channel excavation, and most of the seagrass seemed to be dying, yet the Biorock seagrass was lush and green. This could be because the Biorock seagrass was less affected by sediments or due to more rapid growth. Loss of seagrass on the reef flat will result in increased erosion and reduced capacity to adapt to rising sea levels.
There was good growth of marine organisms, including corals, sponges, and oysters on the mangrove roots in the mangrove project area, as well as numerous juvenile fish, seemingly more than in similar areas further away.
The projects were all working well until February 2017. Shortly after that Trevor Mendelow of View Into The Blue sent Zachary Rago to maintain the camera. All 6 electrical cables to the projects were cut, and all of the electrodes and the sign on the project honoring the memory of the first Panamanian marine biologist, were missing afterwards. After the vandalism was found in May, all cut cables were immediately repaired and the stolen electrodes replaced. Only Goreau, Despaigne, and Mendelow knew where they were, and other than Rago no one else visited the site, which is under armed guard. An improved mounting for the charger was made. However, since the electrician was away we were unable to change the old, badly corroded electrical junction box at the base of the pillar to which the charger is mounted. This could leak in heavy waves, causing risk of electrical shorting. We bought a new outdoor junction box with seals and will replace the old one at the first opportunity. In addition, we will hard-wire the charger directly into the power line with its own on/off switch, so that both the outlets will be available to the lab (one is now occupied by the charger plug).
Recovery from sabotage:
Within a day after power was restored new patches of white minerals could be seen growing on the Biorock structure, while the control shows red rust spots. It is important to document the recovery of the project after several months without power. The Biorock corals should become more fluorescent, darker in color, and grow faster again.
There appears to have been an increase in stinging hydroids on the project while the power was off, similar to those seen on the control. Hydroids are common on artificial steel substrates in the ocean, but rare on Biorock reefs, so it is expected that they will now decrease on the Biorock but not the control.
The Colon area has been at near bleaching temperatures for a couple of months, unusually early in the year, and bleaching is likely later in the year when water temperatures usually rise. Because the benefit of the Biorock process is the DIRECT effect of the electrical field, and is not residual, it is especially important to maintain power continuously when bleaching hits.
The results so far (despite months without power due to sabotage) are so good that more naturally broken corals should be rescued and transplanted when the opportunity arises. However, it is very important that the size and color of the corals be documented photographically right away, so that future changes in them can be documented. The fish populations in both Biorock and control domes, and nearby control sites should be documented. Regular photographs of the corals are needed to measure growth rates, which would be an excellent project for a Panamanian marine biology student.
Because the charger is being used well under capacity, the projects can be expanded. We suggest use of long wires from the Biorock project to add a small trickle charge to the nearest natural coral reefs at the edge of the channel and see if their growth is also stimulated (as we have found in Indonesia). That way much larger areas of reef will benefit by faster coral growth, higher coral settlement, and higher resistance to sedimentation and bleaching from high temperatures.
Changes in seagrass biomass, growth, sediment carbon, and commensal organisms should be documented, but a comparable control site nearby needs to be selected. The Biorock method should be applied to damaged seagrass in the heavily sedimented area to see if their recovery is enhanced, as is expected.
It is hard to compare the effects of the mangrove project because it is in the middle of a mature mangrove that is impossible to walk through. It is recommended that new mangrove plots be established near the boat ramp, where sedimentation has raised the bottom into the intertidal zone and where mangroves are now spreading outward. Small Biorock and control plots can be established with Rhizophora seedlings transplanted in them, so that the effects on above ground and below ground mangrove growth can be documented. Both sea grass and salt marshhave been shown to have higher root and shoot growth with Biorock. Since most mangrove and seagrass transplantation projects fail because the roots fail to establish before waves wash the plants out, Biorock methods could greatly increase success of large scale mangrove restoration that will be increasingly needed when sea level rise accelerates. Small Biorock plots could be powered by a solar panel.
A graduate student from Ecuador, Fatima Andrade, is interested in doing a mangrove restoration project there for her Masters thesis, doing field work from February to August 2018. Since the project will become a long term one, a Panamanian student should be trained to continue the project. An application should be made to STRI for this proposed project with Stanley Heckadon and Tom Goreau as PIs.
The camera wiper arm is not working, and the dome was seen to be covered with sediment, blocking the view. This should be wiped clean from time to time. Whenever Trevor Mendelow, Zachary Rago, or anyone from VITB, comes to check the camera, they need to be watched closely at all times, especially when in the water, to prevent future theft and vandalism.
Below are all the photos of the project, in the interest of complete documentation, although some are repetitive. We also have video taken at these and other times. We will download these from back-up drives, edit then, and post them later.
June 13 2015
Solomon Islands to start worlds largest Mariculture farm at Ontong Java Atoll
June 20 2017
The Solomon Islands government approved a new mariculture farm and hatchery project, expected to be the world’s largest, on June 1 2017.
It will be located in Ontong Java, one of the world’s largest and most remote atolls, with over 1,380 square kilometers of natural productive habitat that will be actively restocked, managed, and sustainably harvested.
The new farm has been organized by Dr. Reginald W. Aipia, medical doctor and entrepreneur of the Ontong Java Development Company Ltd., technology provider Erik Wilton Hagberg of Pacific Aquaculture Cooperatives International Inc., with guidance from Dr. Tom Goreau of the Global Coral Reef Alliance and Biorock Technology Inc.
The project has gained full approval of the Solomon Islands Fisheries Department, having satisfied strict technical qualifications to obtain licensing. Fisheries staff will work collaboratively with the program providing further technical assistance, monitoring, and certification of all products resulting from the project.
The mariculture farm will involve the entire community, and focus on production of sea cucumbers, giant clams, and other species, using innovative reproduction methods developed by Hagberg, combined with all the known benefits of Biorock technology such as increased growth rate, survival, larval settlement, and resistance to environmental stresses like high temperature.
Sea cucumbers and giant clams are being rapidly overharvested worldwide due to their high value for food. Sea cucumbers are also a source of naturally occurring pharmaceuticals. Extracts from sea cucumbers are already included in promising treatments for cancer, arthritis, HIV, herpes, and more.
The unprecedented size and productivity of Ontong Java Atoll, coupled with year-round farming activities could result in Ontong Java becoming the first place to provide sustainable sources of pharmaceutical companies with the raw materials needed to commercialize new medical treatments, with significant added value to the people of the Solomon Islands.
The Solomon Islands Government had previously banned export of sea cucumbers due to concern over their rapid decline. Sea cucumbers play a central role in outer island economics, with some communities deriving as much as 90% of their total income from producing dried sea cucumbers. The existing pattern of open and closed seasons, usually 3 months every 3 years, has severe negative economic and human impact on the affected communities. The venture’s new comprehensive farming and management approach will normalize activities year-round, providing lucrative sustainable livelihoods for the target communities.
Solar powered Biorock shore protection structures, and a variety of Biorock mariculture enclosures will be grown to increase shore protection, grow back eroding beaches, and ensure sustainable yields of target species long into the future. The entire atoll will serve as a laboratory for developing methods to protect atolls from overfishing, global sea level rise, and economic despair using new technology and ethical business practices.
The Chief Fisheries Officer of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, John Legata, said that “We see mariculture as way of turning vanishing resources into permanent and sustainable income for residents, and hope to expand sustainable mariculture to other islands in the future”. The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, said that he would “render full support for the farming to start immediately”.
PDF Announcement: OJDC-WORLD’S LARGEST MARICULTURE FARM PRESS Release
For more information please contact:
Dr. Reginald W. Aipia
Ontong Java Development Co. Ltd, Opp. NRH car park; Chinatown
P. O. Box 366, Honiara; Solomon Islands
Tel: +677-22054 Fax: +677 22061