Sustaining coral reefs with conservation measures that work
Coral reefs are in sharp decline across the world, but a large study has revealed the conservation measures that work, and help reefs to thrive, whilst also balancing social and ecological goals.
An international team, led by Professor Josh Cinner from James Cook University the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, and including University of Technology (UTS) Professor of Marine Biology David Booth, assessed around 1,800 tropical reefs from 41 countries across the globe.
The scientists found that only five percent of the reefs were simultaneously able to meet the combined goals of providing enough fishing stocks, maintaining biodiversity and a working ecosystem. These reefs were geographically spread out across thirty percent of the countries studied in the Caribbean, Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Likening these rare reefs to “Hollywood A-listers of coral reefs” who “have it all”, Professor Cinner says the study shows how to help other coral reefs “get on that A-list.”
The research team assessed if no-fishing marine reserves and other fisheries restrictions helped reefs to meet multiple goals. The study found that implementing such local efforts helped when management efforts were in the right location.
“Marine reserves placed in areas with low human pressures had the best results for helping reefs get on the A-list,” Professor Cinner said.
Professor David Booth, who leads the Fish Ecology Lab at UTS Science, said the research shows the effectiveness of marine parks depends on the condition of the surrounding ocean.
“This is especially true for places where human pressure is high, but the good news is that simultaneously maintaining biodiversity and fisheries is possible with good management”.
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