People must be part of reef conservation

This is from a July 10 (2008) press release from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.  I think this and Terry’s plenary did a great job of covering the importance of people in the equation.  You can watch Terry Hughes’ plenary talk here.

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The world’s coral reefs are not doomed – provided governments and communities take the urgent and necessary actions to preserve them.

That’s the message from eminent Australian marine scientist and recipient of this year’s Darwin Medal Professor Terry Hughes in his keynote address to the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, being held at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA from June 7-11.

Prof. Hughes is the Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, based at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

“The global coral reef crisis is really a crisis of governance. Many of the measures put in place are failing, not because of biology, but because of lack of support from local people and governments,” he says.

“For example many no-take marine reserves have been set up round the world by non-government organisations – but nearly all of them are proving unsuccessful because they ignore the needs of the local population and have failed to win their backing.”

Professor Hughes called on coral reef researchers worldwide to work harder at the societal and economic aspects of protecting the oceans and their living resources.  Good biology alone is not enough. “The reefs are not doomed if we all do the right thing,” he asserts.

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National Geographic photographs southern right whales

Amongst the winners of the National Geographic “best wild animal photos of 2008” (link) is this incredible photograph of a diver and a southern right whale, taken in New Zealand. Like most whale populations, the souther right whale was extensively hunted from the mid 18th century up until the early 1970’s, severely depleting the southern … Continue reading National Geographic photographs southern right whales

“One third of coral species face extinction”

The Telegraph, 10th July

One third of the major reef-building coral species are vulnerable to extinction, and the pace of destruction is increasing so it is conceivable that the "rainforests of the ocean" could be wiped out this century.

The warning that coral communities are faring even worse than their terrestrial counterparts, notably tropical rainforests, is given by an international team led by Prof Kent Carpenter, Director of the Global Marine Species Assessment Of Conservation International And The International Union For Conservation Of Nature, IUCN.

Built over millions of years, coral reefs are home to more than 25 percent of marine species, making them the most biologically diverse of marine ecosystems.

The loss of reefs could have huge economic effects on food security for around 500 million people who are dependent on reef fish for food and/or their livelihoods and tourism is also likely to suffer.

"The results of this study are very disconcerting," said Prof Carpenter, lead author of the Science article.

"When corals die off, so do the other plants and animals that depend on coral reefs for food and shelter, and this can lead to the collapse of entire ecosystems."
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"Whether corals actually go extinct this century will depend on the continued severity of climate change, extent of other environmental disturbances, and the ability of corals to adapt," the article concludes.

"Our results emphasize the widespread plight of coral reefs and the urgent need to enact conservation measures."

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Rapid increase in fish numbers follows creation of world’s largest marine reserve network

So the results on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park zoning are in, and according to new research published in Current Biology, the evidence strongly suggests a rapid increase in fish numbers in no-take areas. Not that this in itself should be so surprising (a decrease in fishing = increase in fish numbers!), but to … Continue reading Rapid increase in fish numbers follows creation of world’s largest marine reserve network