Released by the World Resources Institute last week, Reefs at Risk Revisited is an update of Reefs at Risk, an influential report released in 1998 that highlighted the effects of human activities on the world’s coral reefs. The new report, whose authors include Project Seahorse alumnus Allison Perry, provides an updated analysis of human impacts on coral reefs, including long term effects on the coastal communities who depend on them.
According to Dr. Heather Koldewey, Associate Director of Project Seahorse, “these data indicate that we are in imminent danger of losing most of our coral reefs over the next 30-50 years unless there is a rapid and global action. Project Seahorse is committed to such action, through cutting-edge research into the effects of harmful fishing practices and other human pressures on coastal marine ecosystems, through policy and advocacy, and through programs to establish marine protected areas, among many other interventions.”In the 10 years since the first Reefs at Risk analysis, threats have increased by 30 percent. This includes recent impacts from climate change which causes rising ocean temperatures and coral bleaching.
The most immediate and direct threats arise from local sources, which currently threaten more than 60 percent of reefs (about 150,000 sq km of reefs). Local threats include overfishing, destructive fishing, coastal development and pollution. Unless steps are taken to reduce local pressure and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, the percent of threatened reefs will increase to more than 90% by 2030 and to nearly all reefs by 2050.
The Reefs Revisited report can be downloaded here: http://www.wri.org/reefs.