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The Crown-of-thorns Crisis in Australia: A Retrospective Analysis

Journal Article


Abstract


  • The Crown-of-thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci) was perceived to be a threat to coral reefs of the Indo–West Pacific region partly as a consequence of new technology, in the form of SCUBA diving, becoming generally available. It took some years, however, for field practices to be developed which employed the new technology effectively in sampling such a phenomenon over large areas.In Australia an emotional environmental campaign followed the publication of a report to the Queensland Government in 1969, which claimed that the Starfish was a major threat to the Great Barrier Reef, that it was probably Man-induced, and that it could be controlled. The report was neither adopted nor rejected in the period of more than a year which elapsed between its submission and its publication. As the public campaign gained momentum, official inquiries reviewed and questioned the data-base of the initial report but no attempt was made to devise, test, or implement, a more acceptable sampling procedure until 1973. In retrospect it is suggested that an early practical initiative to assess and remedy claimed defects of the initial sampling programme, would have removed the element of speculation which led to considerable heat in the Crown-of-thorns debate in Australia. The recommendation of the official inquiries resulted in the establishment of a trust fund to give special support to research into the problem. The research thus conducted materially increased understanding of the phenomenon, but it has been claimed that vital areas of investigation were omitted, and the value of such special support has been questioned. It is suggested here that the special problems and expense of research into the ecology of remote reefs would have precluded almost all research into the Crown-of-thorns Starfish and its effects without such ad hoc support. However, it is further suggested that more direct management of the programme would have coordinated research effort and made more effective use of the facilities and support available. © 1978, Foundation for Environmental Conservation. All rights reserved.

Publication Date


  • 1978

Citation


  • Kenchington, R. A. (1978). The Crown-of-thorns Crisis in Australia: A Retrospective Analysis. Environmental Conservation, 5(1), 11-20. doi:10.1017/S0376892900005191

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-16844386935

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 11

End Page


  • 20

Volume


  • 5

Issue


  • 1

Abstract


  • The Crown-of-thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci) was perceived to be a threat to coral reefs of the Indo–West Pacific region partly as a consequence of new technology, in the form of SCUBA diving, becoming generally available. It took some years, however, for field practices to be developed which employed the new technology effectively in sampling such a phenomenon over large areas.In Australia an emotional environmental campaign followed the publication of a report to the Queensland Government in 1969, which claimed that the Starfish was a major threat to the Great Barrier Reef, that it was probably Man-induced, and that it could be controlled. The report was neither adopted nor rejected in the period of more than a year which elapsed between its submission and its publication. As the public campaign gained momentum, official inquiries reviewed and questioned the data-base of the initial report but no attempt was made to devise, test, or implement, a more acceptable sampling procedure until 1973. In retrospect it is suggested that an early practical initiative to assess and remedy claimed defects of the initial sampling programme, would have removed the element of speculation which led to considerable heat in the Crown-of-thorns debate in Australia. The recommendation of the official inquiries resulted in the establishment of a trust fund to give special support to research into the problem. The research thus conducted materially increased understanding of the phenomenon, but it has been claimed that vital areas of investigation were omitted, and the value of such special support has been questioned. It is suggested here that the special problems and expense of research into the ecology of remote reefs would have precluded almost all research into the Crown-of-thorns Starfish and its effects without such ad hoc support. However, it is further suggested that more direct management of the programme would have coordinated research effort and made more effective use of the facilities and support available. © 1978, Foundation for Environmental Conservation. All rights reserved.

Publication Date


  • 1978

Citation


  • Kenchington, R. A. (1978). The Crown-of-thorns Crisis in Australia: A Retrospective Analysis. Environmental Conservation, 5(1), 11-20. doi:10.1017/S0376892900005191

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-16844386935

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 11

End Page


  • 20

Volume


  • 5

Issue


  • 1