Protect coral reefs, say scientists


Sydney: Top marine scientists have sounded an alarm over the plight of coral reefs worldwide and the livelihood of millions of people dependent on them.

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In an unprecedented move, more than 2,000 of the world’s leading marine researchers released in Cairns, Australia, their Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reefs. They are attending the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Australia.

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, 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,” Hughes was quoted as saying in an ARC Centre statement.

“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 gases,” said Hughes.

Among the recommendations are rebuilding fish stocks to restore key ecosystem functions; reducing runoff and pollutants from the land; reducing destruction of mangrove, sea-grass and coral reef habitats; protecting key eco-systems by establishing marine protected areas; rebuilding populations of mega fauna such as dugongs (marine mammal) and turtles.