Tag Archives: Coral Reef

Great Barrier Reef Dredge Approval Was ‘Suicide’ For Reef Authority

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The Great Barrier Reef off the Queensland coast is home to a wealth of marine life. Captions and Photo source: ©© NASA

Excerpts;

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority “committed suicide” when it permitted millions of cubic metres of dredge spoil to be dumped near the reef, one of the world’s leading coral reef scientists says…

Read Full Article, Guardian UK

Great Barrier Reef Authority Approves Dredging And Dumping To Expand Port, Guardian UK (01-31-2014)
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has approved a proposal to dump dredge spoil (about 3 million cubic meters 106 million cubic feet) from the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion in the Marine Park area…

Great Barrier Reef’s Unprecedented Threat From Dredging, Dumping, Guardian UK (05-07-2014)
The impact of dredging and dumping sediment on the Great Barrier Reef has been far greater than the mining industry has claimed, with nearly 150m tonnes of new dredging set to take place in the reef’s waters, a study shows…

Australia Great Barrier Reef Outlook “Poor And Deteriorating”, BBC News (08-14-2014)

Barrier Reef Dredge Spoil Could Travel Further, Guardian UK (07-01-2014)

We Can Save the Caribbean’s Coral Reefs

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Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Parrotfish eat algae and seaweed. These brightly colored fish with beaklike mouths inhabit coral reefs, the wellsprings of ocean life. Without them and other herbivores, algae and seaweed would overgrow the reefs, suppress coral growth and threaten the incredible array of life that depends on these reefs for shelter and food…

Read Full Article, The New York Time

From Despair To Repair: Dramatic Decline Of Caribbean Corals Can Be Reversed, IUCN (07-02-2014)
With only about one-sixth of the original coral cover left, most Caribbean coral reefs may disappear in the next 20 years…

Coral Reef Restoration Can Save Lives, Livelihoods, IRIN (06-27-2014)
A new report suggests that preserving and restoring coral reefs may be one of the cheapest and most effective ways to mitigate coastal erosion and flooding…

Ocean Warming Affecting Florida Reefs

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Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

By USGS;

Late-summer water temperatures near the Florida Keys were warmer by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last several decades compared to a century earlier, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Researchers indicate that the warmer water temperatures are stressing corals and increasing the number of bleaching events, where corals become white resulting from a loss of their symbiotic algae. The corals can starve to death if the condition is prolonged.

“Our analysis shows that corals in the study areas are now regularly experiencing temperatures above 84 F during July, August and September; average temperatures that were seldom reached 120 years ago,” said Ilsa Kuffner, a USGS research marine biologist and the study’s lead author. “When corals are exposed to water temperatures above 84 F they grow more slowly and, during extended exposure periods, can stop growing altogether or die.”

The new analysis compares water temperatures during two time periods a century apart at two of Florida’s historic offshore lighthouses – Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, off Miami, and Carysfort Reef Lighthouse, off Key Largo, Florida. The first period included data from 1879 to 1912, while the second period spanned from 1991 to 2012. Temperatures at a third area, a reef off Islamorada, Florida, were also monitored from 1975 to 2007.

“What’s interesting is that the temperature increase observed during this recent 32-year period was as large as that measured at the lighthouses spanning 120 years,” said Kuffner. “This makes it likely the warming observed at the lighthouses has actually occurred since the 1970s.”

The study indicates that August is consistently the month when Florida’s ocean temperatures peak. In the analysis of recent decades, average temperatures for August have been at or very close to 86 F. At Fowey Lighthouse from 1879 to 1912, the average August temperature was just 84.2 F. Temperatures this August at the same location, though not included in the study, averaged 87 F.

Coral bleaching is currently underway in the Florida Keys, highlighting the real-time impact that warmer ocean temperatures are having on reefs. Corals can recover from bleaching if the waters cool down within a few weeks, but mortality usually ensues if corals remain bleached longer than a month or two.

The study, “A century of ocean warming on Florida Keys Coral reefs: Historic in-situ observations,” was recently published in the journal Estuaries and Coastsand is available via open access.

Original Article, USGS

NOAA Lists 20 Coral Species As Threatened

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Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

By NOAA;

NOAA announced it will afford Endangered Species Act protections to 20 coral species. All 20 species will be listed as threatened, none as endangered. Fifteen of the newly listed species occur in the Indo-Pacific and five in the Caribbean.

“Coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth, providing habitat for many marine species. Protecting and conserving these biologically rich ecosystems is essential, and the Endangered Species Act gives us the tools to conserve and recover those corals ​most in need of protection,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “The final decision is a result of the most extensive rulemaking ever undertaken by NOAA. The amount of scientific information sought, obtained and analyzed was unprecedented.”

Today’s announcement is a significant change from the proposed rule in November 2012. Since that time, many new scientific papers on climate change and coral habitat, distribution and abundance were published so that NOAA was able to consider and incorporate new information into the final decision. NOAA also considered extensive public comments as part of the final rule making.

The new information provided after the proposed rule was published strengthened the body of species-specific information available to NOAA for its final determination. The new information also improved the agency’s understanding of coral habitat diversity, abundance, distribution and species-specific exposure to threats and their relative vulnerability or resilience.

“We want to thank our stakeholders and partners for their strong participation at each step of this process, and we look forward to working with the states, territories, commonwealths, local governments and all our stakeholders and partners to conserve these coral species and ensure they remain for future generations to enjoy,” said Sobeck.

NOAA will continue to work with communities to help them understand how the agency’s decision may or may not affect them. The tools available under the Endangered Species Act are sufficiently flexible so that they can be used for partnerships with coastal jurisdictions, in a manner that will allow activity to move forward in a way that does not jeopardize listed coral. Currently no prohibitions exist relating to the newly listed species.

Coral reefs are critical to the health of marine ecosystems, and they face severe threats. Coral reefs world-wide have declined significantly — some individual species have declined by at least 90 percent. Healthy coral reefs provide shoreline protection for coastal communities and habitat for a variety of species, including commercially important fish. These benefits are lost when corals are degraded.

As part of this rule-making process, NOAA identified a number of threats to coral ecosystems. Some of the most serious threats include impacts related to climate change (rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification and disease), ecological effects of fishing, and poor land-use practices.

NOAA will work with partners on mitigation measures and recovery plans for the newly listed corals. These will likely include approaches that have shown success elsewhere, such as watershed management, to address land-based sediment pollution in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii, and restoration efforts in the Southeast where NOAA and partners are transplanting corals grown in nurseries to help recover degraded reefs.

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Acropora globiceps coral listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. This species occurs in the Indo-Pacific; within US waters it occurs in Guam, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Pacific Remoste Island Areas and American Samoa. Captions: NOAA. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care.

Original Article, NOAA

Dumping Ban Urged for Australia’s Iconic Reef

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The Great Barrier Reef extends for 2,000 kilometers along the northeastern coast of Australia. It is not a single reef, but a vast maze of reefs, passages, and coral cays (islands that are part of the reef). Captions and Photo source: NASA / earth Observatory

Excerpts;

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the government agency responsible for protecting the reef, recently approved the dumping of five million tonnes of dredging spoil in the reef region. Scientists and coral reef experts universally condemned the decision.

The additional threat posed by coal ports and other industrial developments along the coast is so serious that UNESCO warned Australia it would change the reef’s prestigious World Heritage Site designation to a “World Heritage Site in Danger”…

Read Full Article, IPS News

Great Barrier Reef’s Unprecedented Threat From Dredging, Dumping, Guardian UK (05-07-2014)
The impact of dredging and dumping sediment on the Great Barrier Reef has been far greater than the mining industry has claimed, with nearly 150m tonnes of new dredging set to take place in the reef’s waters, a study shows…

Great Barrier Reef Authority Approves Dredging And Dumping To Expand Port, Guardian UK (Uploaded 01-31-2014)
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has approved a proposal to dump dredge spoil (about 3 million cubic meters 106 million cubic feet) from the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion in the Marine Park area…

Cooking The Climate Wrecking The Reef:The Global Impact Of Coal Exports From Australia’s Galilee Bassin, Greenpeace (Uploaded 09-19-2012)

The Great Barrier Reef’s Days May Be Numbered

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Aerial view of Hardy Reef, the heart reef, in the Great Barrier Reef. Captions and Photo source: ©© Greens MPs

Excerpts;

Researchers appeared before an Australian Senate committee this week to review how federal and local governments have managed the reef. What they discovered is that the world’s largest coral reef system is “…in the worse state it’s ever been in since records began…”

Within 40 years, the Great Barrier Reef is expected to lose populations of marine life and will feature far more seaweed and algae where coral once flourished.

Researchers attributed the significant decline to coastal development and placed some of the blame on government action, such as approval of proposals involving dredging and dumping sediment along the Queensland coast.

Read Full Article, Huffington Green

Great Barrier Reef’s Unprecedented Threat From Dredging, Dumping, Guardian UK (05-07-2014)
The impact of dredging and dumping sediment on the Great Barrier Reef has been far greater than the mining industry has claimed, with nearly 150m tonnes of new dredging set to take place in the reef’s waters, a study shows.

Great Barrier Reef Authority Approves Dredging And Dumping To Expand Port, Guardian UK (Uploaded 01-31-2014)
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has approved a proposal to dump dredge spoil (about 3 million cubic meters 106 million cubic feet) from the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion in the Marine Park area…

Cooking The Climate Wrecking The Reef:The Global Impact Of Coal Exports From Australia’s Galilee Bassin, Greenpeace (Uploaded 09-19-2012)

Sustainable Tourism Thrives in Philippines’ Largest Marine Sanctuary

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El Nido, Philippines. Photo source: ©© Philippe Fly Boy

By UNEP;

About 420 kilometers south-west of Manila, in Bacuit Bay, lies the largest marine sanctuary in the Philippines. El Nido is a protected area of 45 islands and islets covering a total of 903 square kilometers, and boasts one of the most diverse ecosystems in the region.

El Nido is protected for its breathtaking geological formations, and unique flora and fauna, which include over 447 reef-building coral species, and 44 unconfirmed species – making it a scuba diving and snorkeling paradise.

In the last 10 years the number of tourists flocking to El Nido has more than tripled. In 2013 the famed marine sanctuary welcomed over 60,000 tourists to its white sand beaches, lush mangrove and ever-green forests, and magnificently sculpted jade islands.

Across the Asia-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean, Green Fins provides the only internationally recognized set of environmental standards to provide guidance and support for business owners and national authorities to promote best practices in sustainable tourism – particularly scuba diving and snorkeling.

Coordinated internationally by The Reef-World Foundation and supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners, Green Fins ensures that diving companies, and tour services, are regularly assessed against the Green Fins internationally recognized environmental Code of Conduct, and that business owners and staff are appropriately trained in environmental best practices.

While tourism is a mainstay of El Nido’s local economy, it is also an industry that is especially sensitive to reef conditions. Once coral reefs are damaged, their ability to support the many creatures that depend on them is greatly diminished. As a consequence, those reefs and local areas lose their attraction as tourist destinations.

“The coral cover of living hard corals is about 26 per cent, which is fair. Meanwhile, soft corals average 4 per cent, which is typically low,” said Irma Rose Marcelo, Executive Director of El Nido Foundation Inc. (ENFI).

“Tourism in El Nido remains both an opportunity and a threat. It is a threat because corals are exposed to anchor damage, snorkeler and diver damage, boat strike, and pollution.”

According to the Head of UNEP’s Coral Reef Unit, Jerker Tamelander, “intensive diving and snorkeling tourism can be a significant driver of reef degradation, and may leave reefs more vulnerable to other stress including climate change.”

It has been estimated by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network that the world has effectively lost 19 per cent of productive reef area, with another 15 per cent under immediate threat of loss. Approximately 500 million people depend on coral reefs for food, coastal protection, and income from tourism, including 30 million who are totally dependent on coral reefs for their livelihoods or for the land they live on.

As a result, when reefs are degraded, millions of people are deprived of the goods and services they provide, such as food from fish, mollusks and algae, tourism benefits and shoreline protection.

Ramil Panganiban, El Nido snorkeling and dive shop owner is adamant that snorkeling and diving should be a sustainable activity. “If we do not protect the environment, we will go out of business,” he said. Now it turns out that sustainability is paying dividends for Mr. Panganiban, who started his company with just a table and a bond of paper to let people know of his business in 2011, and now caters 10 to 20 tours a month, with three boats and a shop.

Sustainable tourism is an important means of safeguarding ecosystems while ensuring that local communities and businesses benefit from tourism. By introducing more sustainable consumption and production patterns into the tourism sector, resources can be better managed, costs lowered, and biodiversity protected.

Reef World Foundation project manager Samantha Craven described the Code of Conduct as a 15-point best practices guide that covers the operation both in and out of the water. “It is a combination of what to do and what not to do, to drive a sustainable industry, and as basis for Green Fins membership,” she said.

To ensure that best practices are followed, dive and snorkel shop operators and guides attend yearly Code of Conduct trainings and assessments.

The Code of Conduct best practices includes: Adhere to the Green Fins Friendly Diving and Snorkeling Guidelines and act as a responsible role model for guests; provide adequate garbage facilities on board facility’s vessel and deal with responsibly; and abide by all local, regional and international environmental laws, regulations, and customs.

“In the Philippines, around 130 dive centers are registered Green Fins members and globally over 260. It’s a number that keeps growing as we also introduce the program in Vietnam and the Maldives,” said Ms. Craven.

Since the introduction of Green Fins in El Nido in 2012, 16 dive shops and 55 to 60 snorkeling tour offices have established operations there.

“Membership is gradually increasing. In most locations we see gradual but consistent growth. In El Nido we have seen very good growth. We have two-thirds participation,” Mr. Tamelander said.

“We would like to see Green Fins replicated in more locations. There are already five areas in the Philippines, they are all prime dive locations, and we are looking at one more site next year. We will work on introducing this initiative in other parts of the Philippines because there are more diving sites in the country than we can count,” he added.

“As a UNEP initiative, Green Fins is implemented through a relevant department in a National government. In the Philippines, it has been successfully adopted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) under the Coastal and Marine Division, and forms part of their sustainable coral reef management plan (SCREMP). That is why the Green Fins project has made great strides here compared to other countries,” said Ms. Craven.

Sustainable tourism is an important example of the Green Economy in action. As tourism continues to grow faster in developing countries than in developed countries, it is vital that Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) patterns – doing more and better with less – are mainstreamed in tourism so that the unique biodiversity of places like El Nido can be preserved to alleviate poverty and provide livelihoods for generations to come.

The shift towards SCP is part of a global 10 year framework of programmes (10YFP) to enhance international cooperation to accelerate the shift towards SCP in both developed and developing countries.

The 10YFP aims at developing, replicating and scaling up SCP and resource efficiency initiatives, at national and regional levels, decoupling environmental degradation and resource use from economic growth, and thus increasing the net contribution of economic activities to poverty eradication and social development. The framework is meant to encourage innovation and cooperation among all stakeholders…

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El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. Photo source: ©© Andy Enero

Original Article And Learn More, UNEP

From Despair To Repair: Dramatic Decline Of Caribbean Corals Can Be Reversed

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Photo courtesy of: © Andrew Jalbert

Excerpts;

With only about one-sixth of the original coral cover left, most Caribbean coral reefs may disappear in the next 20 years, primarily due to the loss of grazers in the region, according to the latest report by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)…

“The rate at which the Caribbean corals have been declining is truly alarming,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme. “But this study brings some very encouraging news: the fate of Caribbean corals is not beyond our control and there are some very concrete steps that we can take to help them recover.”

Read Full Article, IUCN