Time running out for reefs, says CCMI boss

| 06/06/2016 | 3 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cayman Islands coral reef (Photo courtesy Department of Environment)

(CNS): Dr Carrie Manfrino, the research director at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute on Little Cayman, has called for action to reverse the critical decline of tropical coral reefs and wants the world to try harder to save them. The institution is hosting a symposium in London this week, which will bring a cross-section of the world’s top marine scientists, conservationists and foundations to debate the urgent need for innovative ideas. In a release on the eve of the conference, which started Monday, Manfrino said she was looking for progressive new ways of thinking on how to save reefs.

“Large global institutions, government agencies, NGO’s, scientists, and community leaders, need to be asking why we continue to promote measures that don’t seem to be working, and what can we do better,” she said.

The symposium group will share their knowledge and evidence from numerous examples of corals that demonstrate an ability to recover from seemingly disastrous events like this year’s mass bleaching of corals across the tropics and examine where coral reefs are still thriving to find out what these areas have in common, Dr Manfrino said.

The group would be asked to rethink the concepts that are being promoted to protect coral reefs that have failed, she said and suggested that coral reefs have no future unless we understand why some coral reef remain relatively intact today.

Rather than repeat the simple message that reefs are in bad shape – with over 60% under threat from human activity – the symposium will discuss the conditions, actions and strategies that have led to reefs which have the capacity to survive. Organisers hope they will be to identify the research, funding, and actions that could ensure a future for coral reefs.

Professor Terry Hughes, Director of Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said it was time to move beyond the gloom and doom and look for solutions.

“But if we continue to ignore the impact of climate change on coral reefs, no amount of local action will make a difference,” he warned. Hughes will be leading the discussions on the question whether or not the world’s reefs be saved.

According to experts, current strategies to improve the health of most coral reefs are failing. Meanwhile, as global stressors intensify, debates about the future of coral reefs continue. Climate change, over-fishing and destructive fishing practices, and coastal pollution are the key drivers of environmental degradation of coral reefs.

Approximately 500 million people worldwide depend upon coral reefs for food, coastal protection, and tourism income (to name a few). Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have estimated that reefs contribute approximately $29.8 billion to world economies each year.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We can only do our best to protect the coral. This mean leaving the #@*#&#%$&@ thing alone.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The problem with this is I heard exactly the same things being said when the reefs around the Brac suffered from serious coral bleaching in 1998. I’ve also dived areas in the Red Sea (Eilat and Taba to name two) where this message is not only too late – it’s 20 years too late because that’s when the reefs got trashed. It’s the same with SMB, the run off from the overdevelopment has already killed most of the shallow reefs along there.

    I don’t for one second dispute Dr Manfrino’s sincerity here but I’m not sure what she and her colleagues hope to achieve. it’s nice to bring all these issues out and debate them but the bottom line is you can’t recover things that have already been lost or save mankind from their own stupidity.

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