Comments on recreational divers damaging coral reefs...
Jim A - MSDT / Dive business owner
August 27 at 16:23:34
I have seen much damage to coral by recreational divers. It is hard to make your living in the ocean without negatively impacting it. Recreational divers are trained to respect and not damage the reef. Unfortunately people are not perfect, divers and instructors do not want to hurt anything underwater but they make mistakes and damage is inevitable.
Moorings for boats instead of anchoring concentrate damage in the area around the mooring. Anchoring is better when done properly but the chance of all captains and crew learning AND doing that is very slim. Moorings are less worse than anchoring but it doesn't protect the coral. Dropping an anchor in coral is stupid because it damages coral and holding power is inconsistent.
Divers should be trained mostly in buoyancy control. Even then when excellent buoyancy control is demonstrated there are mistakes. One person is no big deal but when hundreds and thousands of people are making minor mistakes at the same spot you get damage. As a scuba instructor with approx. 6,000 dives I have seen damage by fishermen, divers, collectors, and near shore development. Everyone is to blame and should take responsibility. One group that uses the ocean cannot blame another for wreaking the place. Tropical fish collecting unmanaged will destroy an industry. There are a lot more recreational divers than collectors. I believe that collectors damage the reef more than divers, but when you have thousands of divers "not damaging anything because they are just looking" (with fingertips on the coral) they do more damage than the dozens of collectors.
We all must take responsibility. There should be places that nobody can do anything that wasn't done hundreds of years ago. Pointing fingers should be directed at self first then others. We are losing our reefs. If nobody ever dove again, collected again, or fished on a reef they would still be destroyed by development. Any new developments should be totally contained so nothing can get into the watershed from that property. Anyone coming up with that technology would become a billionaire. We should keep emotions out and use the greedy system to bring about the protection (from ourselves) we need.