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Valuable coral reefs under siege

16.12.2004


Leading coral reef experts are meeting today, 16 December 2004, at the Zoological Society of London to discuss the alarming rates of decline and formulate an action plan to prevent the demise of these important ecosystems. With approximately 20% of coral reefs already destroyed, it is thought that close to 50% may be close to collapse.



Coral reefs are critically important for the goods and services they provide to millions of people, with a global value estimated at $375 billion per year. Research presented at the symposium shows that not enough money and effort are being put into this important economic and environmental asset.

“Coral reefs provide a source of food and income, act as natural coastal defences and support a huge tourist industry which is of particular importance in developing countries,” said Dr Isabelle Côté, a co-organiser of the conference from the University of East Anglia. “The conservation of these reefs is vital not just because of their obvious beauty and biological significance, but because they have a huge economic value too.”


Research has shown that in the Philippines the economic value of fisheries on degraded reefs is one-third the value for healthy reefs. In Hawaii, coral reefs are estimated to be worth US$10 billion per year, mostly from tourism.

“Reefs suffer from over fishing, pollution and outbreaks of disease and coral bleaching, which may be linked to climate change. By bringing together world authorities on coral reefs, we want to find options to restore reefs and the benefits that they provide,” added Professor John Reynolds, a co-organiser.

The conference will be opened by the UK’s Minister of Conservation and Fisheries, Ben Bradshaw. The topics addressed include:

• Benefits from coral reefs
• The global problem - status and threats to coral reefs
• Action for achieving sustainable use

Annie Ogden | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uea.ac.uk

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