Friday, February 12, 2010

Snorkeling outing showcases Guam's habitat

Snorkeling outing showcases Guam's habitat

Posted: Feb 08, 2010 4:32 PM
Updated: Feb 08, 2010 6:31 PM

by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - Members of the We Are Guahan Coalition sponsored a four-hour snorkeling trip to outer Apra Harbor on Sunday so that residents could see for themselves the rare coral and fish whose habitat will be disrupted by proposed dredging cited in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement in order to accommodate a pier for an aircraft carrier.

While parts of Apra Harbor are open to the public, this may not be the case for long. On Sunday more than 100 snorkelers scoped out the habitat that thrives in jade and western shoals. We Are Guahan member and Southern High Social studies teacher Collin Smith says there's no doubt that the construction of an aircraft carrier pier will have dire consequences on the marine habitat.

"Some of the reef will actually be gone. Some of it will be gone directly taken out and that's it. Some of the reef will be killed when the sand spreads out in the water and impacts other areas. In the DEIS they say 39 acres will be directly impacted, but it's more like 70 acres will be directly impacted," he noted. "To give you a sense of the scale of this, 39 acres is 21 Micronesia Malls."

While the DEIS states that existing fish stocks can easily relocate to another habitat, marine biologists say otherwise. They argue that removing any coral especially older colonies - permanently reduces the number of surrounding fish.

Legislative Speaker Judi Won Pat, who saw some of the 110 different species of coral herself during the dive, won't allow dredging in Apra Harbor without a fight. "It was an experience I've never had diving or snorkeling here. The large coral heads I'm sure took so many years to grow to that size. There are a lot of fish down there, so it is a habitat for our marine life so I surely don't want to see anything like that disturbed," she said.

For research psychologist and University of Guam professor Mike Elhart, he questions whether or not alternatives are even possible. "Should it not happen? Do we not need to be careful with defense? Of course we do, but the question is can they do it some other way. Could they, for example, set it up further out in the port, another part of the port where it wouldn't damage as much reef that's public access? I don't know the solution, but dredging deeper areas here doesn't seem to be a reasonable way to do it," he said.

No comments: