As soon as we landed in Mackay, Nic from Ultra Coral Australia took us on a dive through the last bit of a good weather window. He took us on a reef that he regularly visits to Harvest Acropora and similar stony corals.
First of all the place was out of this world, probably one of the best dive we’ve ever been to. But it’s not the point of this post.
The point of this post, is that if collection is done properly, it can be sustainable. Nic goes to the same reef, every few months, and get a boat load of over 500 acros in less than 3 hours of diving, all by himself. Then he can come there every few months and collect another load, without any visible damage for the reef.
Because real estate is so expensive in this prime location, best exposed shallow reef parts of the Great Barrier reef, Acros, grow in layers, and are at the prime of coral competition. Removing a less exposed part of a colony, or an overgrowing part of another one, give a small edge to another colony, so this small, spread around collected pieces, have no impact on the reef overall health. Something else is responsible for reefs problems.
These places are over a 120 km boat ride from the shore, and are only accessible when the weather is at its best, which is a natural limitation on how often they can be harvested. But the point is, not all reefs look like that, only very few very well positioned reef, are in this pristine state. These corals only grow on a certain part, a very small portion of these reefs. This is the only location where they receive the perfect conditions where they have evolved to grow in. 100 m away from this particular spot, and species composition changes. We will do some other post about the particular conditions where this Acros that everybody are looking for strive.
But these reefs are really rare and once they start to go down, like all the others due to climate change, bleaching, crown of thorns starfish, cyclone damage, then it becomes difficult to collect them properly. The point is, if wild coral collection is done properly, it’s not affecting the overall reef health.