At the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, BBC reports that At least 2,600 scientists endorsed a petition calling for international efforts to preserve the world’s coral reefs.
They are calling on governments “to take action for the preservation of coral reefs for the benefit of present and future generations”.
According to the petition, “land-based sources of pollution, sedimentation, overfishing and climate change are the major threats” to coral reefs.
“There is a window of opportunity for the world to act on climate change – but it is closing rapidly,” said Prof Terry Hughes, symposium convener, in a statement.
Experts have said that even the most protected reefs, like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, have seen rapid decline over the years.
A report released by environmental think tank the World Resources Institute with the USAID-funded Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP) also said that “threats to coral reefs in the Coral Triangle are much higher than the global average”.
The triangle covers Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, The Solomon Islands and East Timor.
Threats to coral reefs in the Coral Triangle are much higher than the global average. More than 85 percent of reefs within the Coral Triangle Region are currently threatened by local stressors (such as overfishing, pollution, and coastal development), which is substantially higher than the global average of 60 percent. Nearly 45 percent are at high or very high threat levels. When the influence of recent thermal stress and coral bleaching is combined with these local threats, the percent of reefs rated as threatened increases to more than 90 percent, which is substantially greater than the global average of 75 percent.
Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle studies current and future threats to the Coral Triangle’s reefs, evaluates social and economic vulnerability to reef degradation and loss throughout the six countries, examines reef management initiatives, and identifies solutions to help safeguard reefs.
The Philippines, which has the most studied reef systems in Southeast Asia, leads the regional and global decline in coral cover.
“Almost all reefs in the Philippines are threatened by local activities. Two-thirds are rated in high or very high threat categories,” according to the WRI report.
In 2000, about 3 percent of the reefs in the country were in “excellent condition,” said Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director Mundita Lim, who presented the report on the Philippines’ coral reef conditions at an ICRS meeting. As of 2010, only 1 percent of reefs were in pristine state. About 40 percent are in poor condition. “It makes me cry,” she said.
This report is a map-based analysis of threats to coral reefs around the world, with particular focus on the countries of the Coral Triangle—Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. It examines present pressures on coral reefs, including overfishing and destructive fishing, coastal development, and pollution from land and sea, as well as projected threats from climate-related ocean warming and acidification. It also studies the social and economic vulnerability of countries to reef loss and examines existing management efforts.