A study of 322 sites across 13 Caribbean countries found that coral reefs have suffered significant damage from over-fishing and run-off from agricultural land. The results showed that the number of people in close proximity to the reefs was the main factor governing declines in coral reefs.
While other studies have identified over-fishing, rising sea temperatures due to climate change, and pollution as local and global factors in coral reef degradation, the study, lead by Camilo Mora at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, focused on regional factors.
"It is well acknowledged that coral reefs are declining worldwide but the driving forces remain hotly debated," Mora told The Guardian. "In the Caribbean alone, these losses are endangering a large number of species, from corals to sharks."
Mora estimates that the reefs provide $4 billion in ecosystem services - quantifiable benefits including fishing, tourism and protecting the coast from storms.:: Via The Guardian