With coral reefs around the world in rapid decline, it is imperative we make every effort to save the rest.
That’s the message from the world’s leading marine researchers, gathered in Australia for the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium.
In an unprecedented move more than 2500 of the world’s top marine researchers, meeting in Cairns, today released their Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reefs.
It calls for a worldwide effort to overcome growing threats to coral ecosystems and to the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on them.
In particular it urges measures to head off the escalating damage caused by rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, overfishing and pollution from the land.
James Cook University’s Professor Terry Hughes, Convener of the Symposium and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies said: “When it comes to coral reefs, prevention is better than cure. If we look after the Great Barrier Reef better than we do now, it will continue to support a vibrant tourism industry into the future.
“Unfortunately, in Queensland, the rush to get as much fossil fuel out of the ground as quickly as possible before the transition to alternative sources of energy occurs, has pushed environmental concerns far into the background,” he said.
“Australia needs to improve governance of the Great Barrier Reef, particularly coastal development and runoff, to avoid it being inscribed by UNESCO on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger.
“While there has been much progress in establishing marine reserves around the coastline of Australia, marine parks do not prevent pollution from the land, or lessen the impact of shipping and port developments, or reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses.
“There is a window of opportunity for the world to act on climate change – but it is closing rapidly,” Professor Hughes said.
The researchers urge positive local actions such as:
Rebuilding fish stocks to restore key ecosystem functions
Reducing runoff and pollutants from the land
Reducing destruction of mangrove, seagrass and coral reef habitats
Protecting key ecosystems by establishing marine protected areas
Rebuilding populations of large animals such as dugongs and turtles
Promoting reef tourism and sustainable fishing rather than destructive industries
Using aquaculture, without increasing pollution and runoff, to reduce pressure on wild stocks.
For the full statement: http://www.coralcoe.org.au/icrs2012/Consensus_Statement.htm
Issued: July 9, 2012
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