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Is this the end of Reefs, is conservation doomed?


As a marine professional since the late 80's I have been privileged to work in remote locations with amazing aquatic flora and fauna... but lately my heart weeps every time I go into the water.

Diving in remote locations of the Red Sea or now more recently in the Caribbean where it all started for me, I discover underwater deserts where there once was thriving eco systems. Each time I do my best to understand the reasons behind it, and why o why conservation efforts fail.

And regardless of where I am the reasons are always the same, NGO's charged with protection have turned into the business of protection, and a political tip toe. Politicians keep up the appearances but bow to the quick and easy fix which will further their careers and fill their pockets... From Egypt to Curacao with no exceptions.

Tourism locations who are actually depending and reaping the benefits of their natural wealth and resources, don't do even the basic protection for the reefs and beaches that provide their so needed income.

Of course it is bad suit to hamper tourism development by saying the truth, god forbid tourists would get wind of it. But here's the catch ... at a certain point there's no denying it anymore.

Last week while accompanying the Sea Turtle Conservation Curacao (by the way these volunteers of them are fantastic and deserve all our respect!), an onlooker and I got to talk. The man was a fervent scuba diver and was on holiday with his girlfriend scheduled to go on to Bonaire subsequently for a week of scuba diving. They had just come back from a snorkel tour and were utterly disappointed, "The reef is dead here!" he said with a look of astonishment on his face.

He waited for me to answer and explain, perhaps tell him the usual story locals tells him "Well you know there was this hurricane which brought a big swell and tore the corals apart..."

No I didn't tell him that, I've never been the kind to come up with lame excuses like I have heard them the last decade...

Reminds me of the head of HEPCA the late Amr Ali trying to explain that the reefs were doing great, all the while not wanting to see footage I have of the same reefs 20 years ago...

"The stupidity of man, in a nutshell" I said and to top it all of these humans here are so dependent on it but still they don't give a damn...

While I was saying this in the background a villa on the cliffs was happily dumping it's pool water (well I hope it was pool water) of the cliff for an hour or all impunity with no one even pretending to notice.

The inherent point is the following:

At this stage we can safely assume that politicians and their counterparts in the business of protection are failing us. The donations are spent on larger buildings, more staff and exhilarating salaries but not one cent is going into making a sign on each beach depicting the do's and don't s (as an example).

And what would such a sign cost? Not a lot... that's for sure.

But as I like to say: Let's not dwell on the past, and get this sorted; because It is never too late to change the future!



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