Researchers in Fiji Say Eating Less Fish Helps Coral Reefs
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As reported in the Otago Daily Times, the noticeable impacts of climate change on area coral reefs and a recent starfish outbreak are not as bad as previously thought due to noticeable changes in the Fijian lifestyle. From 2000-20006 the size of the reefs around the Lau Islands reduced by 50% but changes in dietary and industry around the island have actually given the reefs a chance to recover, a little. Habitat destruction, overfishing, coral bleaching due to climate change and an outbreak of thorns starfish all worked together to kill off coral in just a few years. Habitat changes killed off many of the small fish and overfishing killed most of the large fish. Yet, researchers are noticing that protein from fish sources is not a major part of the local diet anymore, giving fish populations a chance to recover. In fact, fishing has gone down by 40% as agricultural jobs and production of tanoa bowls, which now fetch a hefty income, have both increased.
One lesson to take away from Fiji is to not just assume we can't save coral due to bleaching from coral reefs. In fact, area researchers say that better management of area reefs gives them a chance to "rebound and recover." No word yet on whether the increase in agriculture has actually just resulted in a trade off of one bad for another. It's inspiring to know that change is possible, it's just too bad that it takes devastation to get people to change.
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