With the great respect due to the people who’ve dedicated their lives to saving coral reefs, the old approaches don’t work. The high mass of pollutants, climate change, and general “commuting between disasters” can’t do the job.
Case in point – Our Great Barrier Reef. Inaction and incomprehension have been the catalysts for failure. The Crown of Thorns starfish plague, for example, has rarely been under sustained attack. It’s been a problem since the 1960s, and it’s still a problem now. 50 years of dithering has done incredible damage to the reef, as much as bleaching, according to some estimates.
The Crown of Thorns is not invincible; it’s a very high volume problem but not invulnerable. It’s a big area, but not an inaccessible area or anything like inaccessible. Any form of removal will do some good.
- Use “marine vacuums” to harvest as many Crown of Thorns as possible. This is quicker, cheaper, and highly efficient, not requiring as many divers or as much time as other options. These marine vacuums are basically the same as vacuum cleaners. A decent size capacity could remove the starfish before their breeding cycle, throwing a few spanners in the population issue. An older ship with enough room could be used as an incinerator. Turn the starfish in to nutrients for the Reef. Fair enough, surely.
- Attack the starfish larvae. These things breed in huge numbers. Any method of attacking the larvae and throwing the repopulation cycle out of whack is at least worth trying. Doesn’t matter if you use a kid with a butterfly net or a lot of artificially bred micro predators, this is a serious weak spot in the Crown of Thorns life cycle.
- Sterilize the bastards. There must be some way of trashing their ability to reproduce. This method has been used on land, but not at sea, to my knowledge. If it works, the Crown of Thorns has been crippled at its most dangerous point.
One thing I must add – The pattern seems to be that every new environmental problem is instantly put in to the Too Hard Basket for reasons of:
- Cost, which is a fraction of the losses caused by degradation of our leading tourist attraction, and marine powerhouse for fish populations.
- Scale, as though the size of a problem means “do nothing”.
- Resources and failure to allocate resources in a timely way.
- Political ignorance and cronyism, however irrational.
This pattern of failure must end. This is NOW an expensive problem because previous admin failed to deal with issues promptly.
The bottom line here, and the only show in town is to wipe the Crown of Thorns out. This problem should have been solved in the 60s. There are no excuses for not doing so now.
The Australian “ethnic” summary – Any obstruction from Bogan third armpits can be ignored, or preferably beaten to a pulp. This is a fixable disaster, and fixed it must be. Then we can get on with the plastics, bleaching, and the greedy ignoramuses causing the disasters.