Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care
Over the last three decades, half of the planet’s coral has died under rising water temperatures and ocean acidification. To address this global crisis, global environmental leaders and countries have named this the International Year of the Reef.
Kicking off the International Year of the Reef, Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama announced the nomination of large portions of Fiji’s Great Sea Reef as a Ramsar site in an effort to protect it from threats, such as climate change, chemical and waste water run-off from neighbouring urban settlement, and industry.
A Ramsar site is designated under international treaty as a wetland important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life. Under the convention, wetlands are broadly defined and include areas such as coral reefs.
“We are engaged in a battle for the future of these reefs. We approved the nomination of large parts of the Great Sea Reef as a Ramsar site to protect it for future generations,” Bainimarama said. “Today I appeal to every single person on earth to help us. We must replace the present culture of abuse with a culture of care.
Senior representatives from the United Nations and WWF took advantage of the occasion to announce a new collaboration driving an urgent global response to combat the decline of coral.
“This is a make or break year for the world’s coral reefs,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment. “We have a short window when we can act, and the United Nations, WWF, and countries like Fiji are calling on the world to take the steps that will fix the problem this year.”
“A healthy planet depends on healthy oceans which cannot exist without preserving coral reefs- a key pillar of WWF’s conservation work worldwide,” Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF International said. “While the world’s oceans are under pressure across the board, coral reefs stand out as needing a global response urgently. Holding a quarter of the ocean’s biodiversity and underpinning the lives and livelihoods of millions of people, the stakes could not be higher for corals – and humanity…”
Coral reefs ‘at make or break point’, UN environment head says; Guardian UK (01-17-2018)
The battle to save the world’s coral reefs is at “make or break point”, and countries that host them have a special responsibility to take a leadership role by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, plastic pollution and impacts from agriculture, the head of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) has said…