Coral reefs are useful to the environment and to people in a number of ways. Ecologically speaking the value of coral reefs are priceless because they are integral to the well being of the oceans and the survival of our marine eco-system.
They provide protection for the shores and beaches from the impact of waves and storms, they provide benefits to humans in the form of food, medicines and tourism as well as provide economic benefits to local communities. Coral reefs generate billions of dollars and millions of jobs in more than 100 countries around the world.
More than 450 million people live within 60 kilometres of coral reefs, with the majority directly or indirectly deriving food and income from them. Properly managed coral reefs can yield an average of 15 tonnes of fish and other seafood per square kilometre each year.
Coral reefs occupy less than ¼ of 1% of the marine environment and are home to more than 25% of all known marine fish species. The reefs provides home and food for many marine creatures, as well they are sheltered nurseries for many juvenile marine life. Tropical waters are naturally low in nutrients because the warm water limits nutrients essential for life. Through the photosynthesis carried out by their algae, coral serve as a vital input of food into the tropical/sub-tropical marine food-chain, and assist in recycling the nutrients.
Coral reefs are found in 109 countries around the world and significant reef degradation has occurred in over 93 of them. All around the world, much of the world’s marine biodiversity face threats from both human and natural activities. If something is not done, many reefs could die off.
It has long been feared that human activity is causing massive extinction. Despite increased efforts at conservation, it has not been enough and biodiversity losses continue. The cost associated with deteriorating or vanishing ecosystems is high. Globally coral reefs face threats from coastal development, overfishing, pollution, and climate change and this contributes to coral bleaching. Coral bleaching can occur for a number of reasons including Ocean acidification, excess nutrients from run-off, high UV radiation levels and cooling and warming of the waters in which the coral resides.
Preserving species and their habitats is important for ecosystems to self-sustain themselves. Sustainable development strategies and conservation will help avert ecological problems.
Our goal is to utilize scientific data gathering in support of environmental conservation, community outreach, education and capacity building.
Comprehensive baseline mapping surveys and data collection are used to develop habitat maps which help identify specific sites where the conservation efforts will be best placed. Once conservation measures have begun, ongoing monitoring of marine life and continued surveys are conducted to assess the effectiveness and provide the evidence to guide the implementation of several reserved or protected areas. These protected areas aim to help protect an area of coral reef from damage and fishing in order to allow fish stocks to recover.
Fish are able to grow older and larger which in turn means that they can produce more offspring. Eventually, as the numbers of fish within the restricted increase, they begin to overflow into the surrounding waters where fishing is still allowed.
To maintain healthy ecosystems we have to strive to achieve a balance between society’s ever-increasing need for goods and services and protection of natural environments, and do so in an era of changing climate
Protect the Planet!
Urban development, agriculture, mineral/oil extraction, fisheries and forestry practices, can threaten the very existence of some ecosystems and alter or eliminate important habitats, and people’s way of life.
Caribbean Volunteer Diving Conservation, Bluecaribbeanconservation.org