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September 2022

Destruction of Coral Reefs Increases

Image: Flickr Overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution are pushing coral reefs into oblivion, an ecologist Roger Bradbury writes in the New York Times Opinion Pages. It is about time to stop turning a blind eye to the fact that the consequences of unbalanced fishing and negligence when it comes to damage-mitigation of pollution frenzy, are about to deplete the biodiversity of the world’s coral reefs. Already at this point the very speed of fishing is preventing the reef from regeneration, taking into account that the fish is what holds the reefs together. The consequences of such malpractice are imminent in less than 20 to 50 years, when the coral reefs’ ecosystems will be replaced by ecosystems of the Precambrian era. Moreover, aside to destroying biodiversity, the repercussions will be felt most by the local communities of the already underprivileged population of tropical countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, who depend on the reefs for food. Countries like the United States, Australia, Japan, Mexico and Thailand will not be left out either, because the destruction of the coral reefs will have immediate consequences on their economies, specifically on the tourism industry. The time has come to shift priorities and finances to prevention of an ecological disaster. A lot can still be done in researching how to preserve the reefs and help the ecosystem survive by introducing ecological engineering methods. As pointed out by Bradbury, considerable funds could be directed to preservation of some of the genetic resources of coral reefs by transferring them into systems that are not coral reefs. In addition, reallocation of research, government and environmental effort to understand what has happened in order to be able to respond should a disaster of this magnitude occur again is pivotal.

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