Coral Reef Loss in Southeast Asia to Reduce Food Supplies 80%: Strong International Action Needed

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photo: sektordua via flickr

The effect that warming and ocean acidification will have on coral reefs will be devastating. At particular risk, a new report from World Wildlife Fund points out, is the Coral Triangle in Southeast Asia. Without strong action to constrain global temperature rise, coral in the region could be wiped out by 2100, leading to a decline in food production in the region by 80%, imperiling 100 million people:The report (The Coral Triangle and Climate Change: Ecosystems, People and Societies at Risk) explains that though the Coral Triangle is just one percent of Earth's surface, it contains 30% of all coral reefs, 76% of reef-building coral, 35% of coral reef fish species and is the spawning ground for many commercially-important fish species.

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photo: Wikipedia
Food Loss, Rural-to-Urban Migration Increases
Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland, who led the study said that if we continue on the climate change trajectory we are on,
...people see the biological treasures of the Coral Triangle destroyed over the course of the century by rapid increases in ocean temperature, acidity and sea level, while the resilience of coastal environments also deteriorates under faltering coastal management. Poverty increases, food security plummets, economies suffer and coastal people migrate increasingly to urban areas.

Tens of millions of people are forced to move from rural to coastal settings due to loss of homes, food resources and income, putting pressure on regional cities and surrounding developed nations such as Australia and New Zealand.

Resource Loss Manageable if Strong International Action Taken
Though the report says that at this point some coral loss is probably inevitable, if strong emission reductions are made and the international community invests in strengthening the regions natural environment, there will be challenges for the region but they may well be manageable. How to do this?

Effective management of coastal resources through a range of options including locally-managed regional networks of marine protected areas, protection of mangrove and seagrass beds and effective management of fisheries results in a slower decline in these resources.

Read more: The Coral Triable and Climate Change: Ecosystems, People and Societies at Risk, WWF-Coral Triangle Program
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