1 Tahrcountry Musings: It is Not Too Late to Save Our Declining Coral Reefs

Friday, October 08, 2010

It is Not Too Late to Save Our Declining Coral Reefs

Eminent marine scientists from Australia and the USA writing in the latest issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE) say there is still time to save our coral reefs even though they are in precarious condition in some areas.  About 125,000 square kilometres of the world’s corals have disappeared so far. According to latest report 19% of all reefs have been effectively lost, another 15% are critical and likely to be lost in 10–20 years, and a further 20% are under threat from local human pressures.
The efforts should be to improve the resilience of coral reefs, so that they can withstand the impacts of climate change and other human activities. The scientists say some reefs degenerate into a mass of weeds and never recover – an event known as a ‘phase shift’ – while on other reefs the corals manage to bounce back successfully, showing a quality known as resilience. The degradation and disappearance of corals can be arrested and reversed with the right management prescriptions.
The team has come up with certain recommendations.
  • Empower and educate local people to look after their own reefs
  • Change land uses that cause damaging runoff and sediment
  • Control not only fishing, but also fish markets to protect herbivorous fish
  • Integrate resilience science with reef management and support for local communities in restoring their reefs
  • Improve laws that protect coral reefs globally
  • Confront climate change as the single most important issue for coral reef management and conservation by sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Restoration of sites in Hawaii, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Caribbean, Bahamas and Philippines amply demonstrates that with dedicated efforts restoring coral reefs is not a pipe dream

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