Thursday, January 17, 2013

Biodiversity Law In Paradise (1/17/2013)

John Rubattino And The Class
Today, we spent much of the morning and early afternoon in lectures on species, phylogeny, and biogeography, and the relationship between biodiversity science and the making of sound policy and law.

Next, we had a visit from John Rubattino, the president of the Caribbean Oceanic Restoration and Education ("CORE") Foundation, who gave a passionate presentation about the invasive Red Lion Fish and its relentless spread throughout the Caribbean.  This invasive fish has been devouring its way through coral reef after coral reef, denuding them of any small fish they can catch.  According to John, a single Red Lion Fish can eat dozens of important coral reef fish every day, and females can lay thousands of eggs every few days.  Since their arrival in the Virgin Islands, the effect has been devastating.  In addition to providing education about this damaging invasive, another major purpose of CORE is the eradication of Red Lion Fish via spearfishing.  It's too early to know whether CORE's efforts will succeed, but, if no solution is found the Virgin Island coral reefs, as well as those throughout the Caribbean, could soon become ghost reefs.

We finished out the day by visiting Virgin Islands attorney par excellence, Jeffrey Weiss.  Jeff has been instrumental in some of the most significant Virgin Islands biodiversity litigations of the past several decades.  He illustrated the importance of sound biodiversity laws coupled with skilled lawyering by telling the class about long litigation battle to save the Virgin Islands Tree Boa.  If only biodiversity had more heroic advocates like John and Jeff to protect it, conservation would be much more effective.