Top marine scientists warn reefs in rapid decline

More than 2,600 of the world's top marine scientists Monday warned coral reefs around the world were in rapid decline and urged immediate global action on climate change to save what remains.

The consensus statement at the International Coral Reef Symposium, being held in the northeastern Australian city of Cairns, stressed that the livelihoods of millions of people were at risk.

Coral reefs provide food and work for countless coastal inhabitants globally, generate significant revenues through tourism and function as a natural breakwater for waves and storms, they said.

The statement, endorsed by the forum attendees and other marine scientists, called for measures to head off escalating damage caused by rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, overfishing and pollution from the land.

"There is a window of opportunity for the world to act on climate change, but it is closing rapidly," said Terry Hughes, convener of the symposium, held every four years, which attracted some 2,000 scientists from 80 countries.

Jeremy Jackson, senior scientist at the Smithsonian Institution in the United States, said reefs around the world have seen severe declines in coral cover over the last several decades.

In the Caribbean, for example, 75-85 percent of the coral cover has been lost in the last 35 years.

Even the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the best-protected reef ecosystem on the planet, has witnessed a 50 percent decline in the last 50 years.

Jackson said while climate change was exacerbating the problem, it was also causing increased droughts, agricultural failure and sea level rises at increasingly faster rates, which implied huge problems for society.

"That means what's good for reefs is also critically important for people and we should wake up to that fact," he said.

"The future of coral reefs isn't a marine version of tree-hugging but a central problem for humanity."

Stephen Palumbi, director of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, said addressing local threats, such as poor land development and unsustainable fishing practices, was also critical.

More than 85 percent of reefs in Asia's "Coral Triangle" are directly threatened by human activities such as coastal development, pollution, and overfishing, according to a report launched at the forum earlier Monday.

The Coral Triangle covers Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, The Solomon Islands, and East Timor and contains nearly 30 percent of the world's reefs and more than 3,000 species of fish.

International Society for Reef Studies president Robert Richmond stressed that the consensus statement was not just another effort at documenting the mounting problems.

Instead he said it was also about making the best available science available to leaders worldwide.

"The scientific community has an enormous amount of research showing we have a problem. But right now, we are like doctors diagnosing a patient's disease, but not prescribing any effective cures," he said.

"We have to start more actively engaging the process and supporting public officials with real-world prescriptions for success."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

  • No apology, but Noy seeks understanding
    No apology, but Noy seeks understanding

    There was no apology, but President Aquino yesterday expressed regret, took “full responsibility” and appealed to the nation for “deepest understanding” for the Jan. 25 Mamasapano raid in which dozens died, including 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. “To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt because of the events related to this operation, it is with abiding humility that I ask for your deepest understanding,” Aquino said in a speech before the 246 new graduates of …

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP
    Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP

    President Aquino vowed yesterday to dismantle the culture of factionalism or the bata-bata system within the Philippine National Police as he continued the search for the next PNP chief. Speaking at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) commencement exercises here, the President said the country needed solidarity among leaders and members of the police force so that the policemen would be effective protectors of Filipinos. “Our challenge to the next chief of our national police force: …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as well as warm climate and people are just some of the things that make the Philippines a top …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options