It is important to work to prevent damage to coral reefs whenever possible. However during times of stress, such as during a bleaching event, preventing damage is critical because corals are more vulnerable to disease and other threats during these times.
During a Bleaching Event
When faced with a bleaching event temporarily prohibit all forms of extractive use (other than specific management-related removal of damaging species) in bleaching-resistant sites.
During Vulnerable Times
Follow the other suggestions below to maximize protection during vulnerable times:
- Inform stakeholders, especially resource users, of the ongoing event, and provide guidance on necessary actions.
- Temporarily control visitor access to protected, bleaching-resistant sites, through either total exclusion or carefully controlled access.
For controlled access to bleaching-resistant sites in MPAs:
- Prohibit anchoring; maintain existing moorings and require boats to use them.
- Consider permitting drift diving as a means to avoid contact with corals in channels through reefs and along walls.
- Control numbers of visitors and link access to payment of premium access fees, to help compensate for the higher management cost of these areas.
- Require accreditation of operators before issuing them special licenses to access resistant sites.
- Implement regular monitoring for visitor damage and close access for a two-year recovery period if damage is detected.
For sites that succumb to bleaching, consider closure or exclusion of certain potentially damaging activities after a bleaching event. This will enable rapid recovery and direct interventions to enhance recovery.
A Reef Managers Guide to Coral Bleaching
By Paul Marshall and Heidi Schuttenberg
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