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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2679

Asia’s valuable coral reefs will be gone forever by the end of this century

Hilary Rajakarunanayake, Editor – Sri Lanka, Asian Tribune

The International Environment Organization states that by the end of this century the valuable coral reefs in Asia will be gone forever. The world has already lost over 40 per cent of the famous coral reefs around the Komodo islands of Indonesia. More than 75 per cent of all the coral reefs in the world exist around Indonesia. The main reason for the dwindling and extinction of coral reefs is due to climatic changes and due to man’s destructive actions.

Coral reefs are the most diverse and beautiful of all marine habitats. Large wave resistant structures have accumulated from the slow growth of corals. The development of these structures is aided by algae that are symbiotic with reef-building corals, known as zooxanthellae. Coralline algae, sponges, and other organisms, combined with a number of cementation processes also contribute to reef growth.

The coral reef is a topographically complex phenomenon of nature. Much like a rain forest, it has many strata and areas of strong shade, cast by the over towering coral colonies. Because of its complexity, thousands of species of fish and invertebrates live in association with reefs, which are by far our richest marine habitats. In Asian reefs, for example, several hundred species of colonial invertebrates can be found living on the undersides of platy corals. It is not unusual for a reef to have several hundred species of snails, sixty species of corals, and several hundred species of fish. Of all ocean habitats, reefs seem to have the greatest development of complex symbiotic associations.

A recent study, commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), said the destruction of the Coral Triangle would reduce the ability of coastal environments to feed people by 80 percent and result in the livelihoods of around 100 million people being lost or badly affected because coral reef fish species, as well as vital spawning grounds for other economically important fish such as tuna will be lost to the world.

Such a scenario would be prevented if global action on climate change is taken and the problems of over-fishing and pollution in the region are tackled, the study presented at the World Ocean Conference in Indonesia said.

"In one world scenario, we continue along our current climate trajectory and do little to protect coastal environments from the onslaught of local threats,” Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who led the study, was quoted as saying in a statement released by the WWF.

- ASian Tribune -

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