Wu: Well, some problems are bigger than tourism. Coral reefs
might perish due to global warming despite anyone's best efforts.
But it's also true that in the diving community there have been
many success stories where ecotourism has saved coral reefs. In
Indonesia, for example, a resort called Kungkungan Bay Resort has
been a great force in marine conservation efforts in North
Sulawesi. Diving operations and the divers who travel to them seem
to bring conservation efforts to any area where the two come
together - the diving operations have a financial stake in seeing
their clients dive on healthy reefs. Places like Bonaire and Grand
Cayman, they've all established marine parks because of divers. But
divers are a small minority of the population. I also wonder how
many of these ecotourists tell other countries that they are
polluting, then go home to huge SUVs and houses that are 6,000
square feet and have to be air-conditioned against the summer
American Way: Is there hope?
Wu: Sure. There are great things going on. People have shown
that it's possible to produce an awareness campaign that can
actually save a species of fish. A good example is Atlantic
swordfish. An organization called
SeaWeb got all the chefs in New York to stop serving this highly
threatened fish. The chefs did so, and Atlantic swordfish
rebounded. Unfortunately, they've since stopped the campaign and
it's the same story now. But there's still plenty of good news.
Completely off-limits marine reserves have been established, and
they have helped protect reefs and fish. TEDs [turtle excluder
devices, which let shrimp pass into the main net while ejecting the
turtles back into the wild] installed in shrimp trawlers have
helped turtle populations rebound in the Gulf of Mexico since they
are no longer caught and killed in the nets.
American Way: What is it about our oceans that gives
you the most joy?