This paper presents initial results from a study of factors that inhibit or enhance hard coral recovery in rubble fields created by blast fishing in Komodo National Park and Bunaken National Park, Indonesia. Within nine sites monitored since 1998, there was no significant natural recovery. Levels of potential source coral larvae were assessed with settlement tiles in the rubble fields and in nearby high coral cover sites. Rubble movement was measured and shown to be detrimental to small scleractinians, especially in high current areas. In shallow water (2–6 m deep), rubble is often overgrown by soft corals and corallimorpharians, which inhibit hard coral survival. There is increased scleractinian recruitment in quadrats cleared of soft coral, and Acropora nubbins transplanted into soft coral fields suffer greater mortality than those transplanted above the soft coral canopy. Gaining an understanding of the prognosis for coral recovery is essential not only in order to assess the long-term impacts of blast fishing, but also to improve management decisions about protection of intact reefs and potential restoration of damaged areas.
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