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Reef Report for Saturday, December 20, 2008

Current Research Reports Good News for the Great Barrier Reef
Other Coral Reefs are not doing as well.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science, as a part of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, has just published a comprehensive summary of the state of the world’s coral reefs.

There’s lots of bad news and a bit of good news as well. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises

The bad news is that nearly 20% of the world’s coral reefs are considered severly damaged, with nearly all of them being damaged by human activities such as, overfishing, destructive fishing and industrial practices, and pollution, natural causes are not cited as factors in severe reef damage.

The good news is that the Great Barrier Reef is in pretty good shape, here’s just two quotes we grabbed from the report:

"The oceanic and island reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea are amongst the best understood and managed in the world with considerable capacity and expertise in research and management, particularly along the GBR."

"Rezoning of the GBR in 2004 was a major undertaking that is showing significant ecosystem benefits; new management plans are being developed for many Coral Sea islands and reefs."

That said there is a rather ominous statement alluding to existing threats to the Great Barrier Reef:

"Nevertheless, climate change presents a serious medium to long-term threat to coral reefs in Australia and Papua New Guinea and it is certainly conceivable that some reefs may be degraded to the point where they cease to have viable coral communities while others may undergo phase shifts to persistent alternative states. Hence, efforts to maintain reef resilience should be complemented by efforts to address global climate change."

In a companion report, the scientific study group looked at socio-economic factors at work in communities alongside coral reefs, and concluded that in many cases poorly managed coral reefs were being overexploited by neighboring coastal communities, and suggested that a strategy of having more well-managed and protected coral reefs, combined with the development of alternative income sources for these communities would help both the reefs and the neighboring communities. These communities are often completely dependent on their coral reefs as a source of income and liveliehood, but the resource is not being managed in a sustainable manner, especially in the face of a growing local human population.

Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network Documents:

Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008 (requires free registration)

Socioeconomic conditions along the world’s tropical coasts: 2008 (requires free registration)

News Coverage of this Story:

Coverage, from CNN.

Coverage, from The Age.

Coverage, from Science Daily.

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as  many other local sources in the dive community.

Index of all reef reports.

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