Coral reefs are a major source of income for the world’s economies and are in decline worldwide due to pollution and habitat loss.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has warned that coral reefs will be at the top of the list of the planet’s species threatened by climate change by 2050.
Coral reefs produce around 90 per cent of the worlds fish and shellfish, and their abundance is predicted to decline by 50 per cent by 2100.
The decline is particularly pronounced in the Indian Ocean, where many fish stocks have been wiped out by the expansion of fishing gear.
“Coral reefs are not only a global economic driver, they are also a critical habitat for many marine species,” said Dr Pauline Skelton, a Coral Reef Marine Conservation Specialist with the IUCN.
“If they disappear, it will have a devastating impact on the global ecosystem.”
Coral reefs also provide an important source of food for fish and other marine animals.
The reef is home to some of the richest and most diverse species of fish in the world, with some estimates suggesting that half of the ocean’s fish population is currently on the reefs.
Coral reef communities have been hit particularly hard by pollution and climate change, and some have already been wiped off the map.
In some places, there are currently fewer than 5,000 reefs in the entire world, while many more are in crisis.
“Climate change is impacting not only the environment, but also the coral reef,” said Skel.
“The coral reef is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the oceans and is a critical part of our coastal and marine ecosystems.
It is critical for our marine species to continue to thrive.”
Dr Skel said that while coral reefs are the biggest source of marine income, there were many other sources of income in the marine environment as well.
“Many species rely on fisheries to feed themselves and are reliant on fishing and fishing tourism,” she said.
Coral reef stocks in the United States are estimated to be about 5 per cent in total, but are now falling in the most vulnerable areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, said Dr Skell. “
In the past, we have seen the rapid increase in human impacts on the environment through pollution, overfishing and climate disruption.”
Coral reef stocks in the United States are estimated to be about 5 per cent in total, but are now falling in the most vulnerable areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, said Dr Skell.
“There are many places that are struggling, and there are many people that are suffering, including those who depend on fisheries.”
Coral Reef Conservation is working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Marine Conservation Institute to address the impact of climate change on coral reefs.
“We have worked with the agency to identify areas where we can build on our knowledge to better protect the reefs,” said Dan Skel, Coral Reef Fisheries Program Manager for the US Department of the Interior.
“This includes working with local communities to assess where the reefs are most at risk and identifying ways to mitigate or manage their impact.”
The US Government has pledged to support the Coral Reef Fishery Management Program and other fisheries management programmes in the future.