As my country is host of the world’s largest known deep sea coral reefs outside Lofoten, and my wife’s country is part of the richest marine region on Earth, The Coral Triangle between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, it makes me sad to learn about the new report Reefs at Risk Revisited from the World Resources Institute. Today three out of four coral reefs are in danger. Worldwide the threat against coral reefs has increased by 30 percent in just ten years. This is an extremely serious situation, as a large part of the world’s population is depended upon fisheries sustained by these reefs, and their protection against storms. And they are a gene bank for the future.
The threats are destructive fishing with dynamite, poisons and bottom trawling, building projects in coastal areas, runoff from deforestation, agriculture and cities, and surely climate change and the acidification of the oceans. Ocean acidification is an even more immediate threat to cold water coral reefs, as cold water absorbs more CO2. Warmer water leads to coral bleaching which can result in death if unchecked. In Norway about 30 – 50 percent of our coral reefs are destroyed by bottom trawling.
If drastic measures are not taken soon the report concludes that our descendants will have no possibility to experience intact coral reefs by year 2050. The knock-on effects for the rest of the web of life within our biosphere go far beyond human food and economic needs however.
Download the report Reefs at Risk Revisited.