Coral disease threatens country’s fisheries industry

A threat to coral known as stony coral tissue loss disease could devastate The Bahamas’ fisheries industry and other industries if scientists cannot find a way to protect and preserve this country’s coral reefs, Director of the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) Rochelle Newbold said yesterday, adding that the disease leads to the loss of 50 meters of coral per day.

“We have a COVID of the sea and that is affecting our reefs,” said Newbold.

She said more than 90 percent of Grand Bahama’s corals have already been devastated by the disease and the country could lose its coral reefs in five to ten years if the disease is not controlled.

She added that the disease has been detected throughout the entirety of The Bahamas’ reef systems.

According to Newbold, scientists are still trying to determine if the coral degradation is being caused by a bacteria, fungus or some other thing, but for now there is nothing they can do to counter the effects of stony coral tissue loss disease.

She warned that many industries could be affected if the disease is not stopped.

“The reef has fundamentally been tied to the lifeblood of the country,” said Newbold.

Government has engaged a team to address the problem, she said, explaining that several tests are being done on the coral to understand what is happening. She added that it has been determined there are some strains of coral that are resistant to the disease.

She said the government is trying to utilize the help of Atlantis resort and its aquarium to protect some coral until a cure can be found.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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