Reefs in Brief: International Year of the Reef: US launch

The Celebrations begin in the US, but with sombre news.

The future for corals does not look bright. That’s the message from the first in-depth analysis of 2005’s widespread coral bleaching in the Caribbean by the IUCN.

The report warns that the only way for corals on reefs around the world to survive is to manage direct pressures, such as fishing and pollution, then hope that some coral species are able to adapt to a warmer environment.

The report marks the beginning of the International Year of the Reef 2008.

What can one person do about this?

Meanwhile in Hawai'i, "They're valuable, they're awesome, they're spectacular, and they're in trouble," said Randall Kosaki, research coordinator for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, during the Hawai'i launch.

Hawai'i has hundreds of thousands of acres of living reef, home to more than 5,000 known species of marine plants and animals. About one in four of these species is found only in Hawai'i.

But reefs in Hawai'i and around the world are under threat from alien invasive species, overfishing, land-based pollution and ocean debris.

Hawai'i's 1.2 million residents and about 7 million tourists each year have put increasing pressure on the state's coral reefs, and a number of urban areas and popular visitor spots have suffered from land-based pollution, "significant fishing pressure," recreational overuse and alien species, according to a 2008 report on "The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the Main Hawaiian Islands."

The report, scheduled to be released this summer, said that despite these human stressors, "many of Hawai'i's coral reefs, particularly in remote areas, are still in fair to good condition."

What can one person do?
Here's the list for Hawai'i, many of which are stuff we can do in Singapore too.

What you can do to protect coral reefs

Don't use chemically enhanced pesticides, fertilizers and cleaning products. Use natural cleaners: white vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.

Keep it clean. Keep green waste and other debris out of storm drains and waterways. They can wash down streams and drains and smother coral reefs. Participate in volunteer cleanups. Recycle.

Dive and play responsibly. Don't touch or step on coral reefs. One step on a coral may damage it; two to nine steps will kill it. Don't disturb sediment at the bottom; it can smother corals.

Fish responsibly. Fish help keep the reef healthy; take only what you need. Don't leave lines, nets or other fishing equipment on the reef.

Conserve water. The less water used, the less runoff and wastewater that make it into the ocean.

Don't anchor on the reef. If near a coral reef, use mooring buoy systems when available.

Prevent alien species. Clean boat hulls regularly and properly dispose waste.

Source: NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program, state Division of Aquatic Resources


Corals: facing the death sentence

IUCN website 24 Jan 08;

Status of Caribbean Coral Reefs after Bleaching and Hurricanes in 2005

Hawai'i: It's the Year of the Reef
Lynda Arakawa, Honolulu 24 Jan 08;

Save coral reefs for future generations

Statement on International Year of the Reef by The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International
Stephanie Meeks, Carter Roberts and Peter Seligmann
Miami Herald 25 Jan 08;

International Year of the Reef: US launch
Researchers looking at coral threats
Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press Yahoo News 25 Jan 08

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