News

    Report: 75 Percent of World's Coral Reefs Threatened

    Coral reefs are essential for coastal protection, and for the food security and economic wellbeing of millions of people around the world
    Coral reefs are essential for coastal protection, and for the food security and economic wellbeing of millions of people around the world

    Multimedia

    Zulima Palacio

    About 75 percent of the world's coral reefs are currently threatened by human activities and ecological disruptions, according to a new study released last week by a network of more than 24 environmental organizations.  The report was issued simultaneously in a number of locations around the world.

    The new study called Reefs at Risk Revisited is an update of a report first issued in 1998.  It makes use of newly-available data and higher-resolution satellite mapping technology.  And for the first time, it considers the impact of climate change along with other factors, on these fragile marine organisms.

    Its somber assessment:  if the international community does not do anything now to save the coral reefs and their rich ecosystems, more than 90 percent of the world's reefs will be threatened by 2030 and nearly all of them could be at risk in less than 40 years.

    "Approximately 75 percent of the world's coral reefs are currently threatened by a combination of local and global pressures," said Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  "If the current trends persist, the projection for this report tells us that 20 years from now, roughly half the reefs globally will experience thermo stress sufficient to induce severe bleaching in most years.  Within the next 50 years this percentage is expected to grow more than 95 per cent."

    And according to Nancy Knowlton, of the Smithsonian Institution, this could have a major impact on sea life.

    "It's been estimated that about one fourth maybe as much as one third of all species that live in the ocean are associated with coral reefs," said Knowlton.  "Perhaps it is not too surprising to know in a recent analysis suggesting that one third of all coral species are actually at risk of extinction.  This makes coral the most endangered animal on the planet, even more endangered than frogs."

    Coral reefs are essential for coastal protection, and for the food security and economic wellbeing of millions of people around the world.  They are an important source of protein, a potential source of pharmaceuticals, and as Lauretta Burke of the World Resources Institute points out, a valuable tourist attraction.

    "Tourism is an important economic contributor in over 95 countries and territories around the world, it contributes over 20 percent of GDP in over 20 countries," noted Burke.

    Burke was one of the lead authors of the study.  She says it found 275 million people are dependent on the resources from coral reefs, mostly in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.

    The study includes detailed data on the most serious global threats to the oceans:  among them, overfishing, climate change and higher acidity levels caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

    Other threats, especially at the local level, include the use of explosives for fishing as well as the runoff of sediments, excess nutrients, toxic materials and other pollution.

    "Overfishing is the most widespread threat affecting about 55 percent of the world's coral reefs," added Burke.  "The threat is particularly high in Southeast Asia.  Watershed coastal pollution and coastal development affects roughly a quarter of the coral reefs."

    Burke said while the reefs around Australia are the best preserved, those in Southeast Asia are the most threatened, with 90 per cent of them at risk, largely because of overfishing.

    The study's authors say they hope the report communicates what is at stake:  that coral reefs are critically important, and that better management practices and policies must be implemented to reduce the threats to these valuable ecosystems.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora