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Experimental Assessment of Coral Reef Rehabilitation Following Blast Fishing

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Illegal fishing with explosives has damaged coral reefs throughout Southeast Asia. In addition to killing fish and other organisms, the blasts shatter coral skeletons, leaving fields of broken rubble that shift in the current, abrading or burying new coral recruits, and thereby slowing or preventing reef recovery. Successful restoration and rehabilitation efforts can contribute to coral reef conservation. We used field experiments to assess the effectiveness of different low-cost methods for coral reef rehabilitation in Komodo National Park (KNP), Indonesia. Our experiments were conducted at three different spatial scales. At a scale of 1 × 1 m plots, we tested three different rehabilitation methods: rock piles, cement slabs, and netting pinned to the rubble. Significantly more corals per square meter grew on rocks, followed by cement, netting, and untreated rubble, although many plots were scattered by strong water current or buried by rubble after 2.5 years. To test the benefits of the most successful treatment, rocks, at more realistic scales, we established 10 × 10 m plots of rock piles at each of our nine sites in 2000. Three years after installation, coverage by hard corals on the rocks continued to increase, although rehabilitation in high current areas remained the most difficult. In 2002 rehabilitation efforts in KNP were increased over 6000 m2 to test four rock pile designs at each of four rubble field sites. Assuming that there is an adequate larval supply, using rocks for simple, low-budget, large-scale rehabilitation appears to be a viable option for restoring the structural foundation of damaged reefs.
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Keywords: Indonesian reefs; arrecifes de Indonesia; coral reef recovery; recuperación de arrecife de coral; reef restoration; restauración de arrecifes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The Nature Conservancy Coastal and Marine Indonesia Program, Jln. Pengembak No. 2, Sanur, Bali, Indonesia 2: Department of Integrative Biology, 3060 VLSB, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3140, U.S.A.

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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