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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

From Despair to Repair

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, August 7, 2014/Categories: wildlife conservation, marine life, sustainability, environment, climate change

A special place is reserved for coral reefs at Riled Up.

Besides their amazing beauty and biodiversity, reefs and the creatures that inhabit them are economic drivers for entire regions ranging from Australia's Great Barrier Reef, to Pacific island nations, and across the Caribbean. That they are in trouble from a myriad of threats including overfishing, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and water pollution. By some estimates, Caribbean corals 'will be lost within 20 years' without action.

Reef killers: coral "dead zones"

Dutch Antilles, 1971 (credit: David Meyer)         Dutch Antilles, 2013 (credit: Catlin Seaview Survey)

Reef killers: overfishing
Florida Keys Fishing Trophy Display, 1957-2007 (credit: McClenachan)

Reef Killers: Algae smothered reefs & trapping of marine "grazers":

Algae Smothered Reef (credit: Bob Steneck)    Trapped Reef "Cleaner" Fish (credit: Frank Baensch)

Reef killers: coral bleaching & diseases:

Coral Bleaching & Yellow/Black Bacterial Banding Diseases (credit: Ernesto Weil, Aldo Croquer)

What to do?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( IUCN ) in partnership with the
Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has just released a major report,  From Despair to Repair , that illustrates the problems facing Caribbean reefs but also offers hope for their recovery. The IUCN shows that some simple actions exist that can be accomplished now rather than waiting for the challenges of addressing climate change effectively.

Among the reports suggestions:

create effective no fishing zones to reduce overfishing; restore "grazers" like parrot fish to clean reefs of algae; remove predatory invasive species like lionfish, reduce water pollution from agricultural and wastewater run-off; list the parrot fish as an endangered species; encourage aquaculture to reduce pressure on wild populations and maximise
the effect of all these management strategies by incorporating effective outreach, compliance, enforcement, and alternative livelihoods for reef communities.

Well managed healthy reefs still exist in the Carribbean that serve as models for coral restoration:

Well Managed Coral Reefs, Bonaire & Bermuda  (credit: IUCN)

The IUCN's report should be widely read and applied.



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