The future of shallow-sea coral reefs

Coral reefs, in case you haven’t been keeping up, are increasingly threatened by overfishing, ocean acidification, and warming, among other human-derived factors.  Recently, much buzz has been created on the web (e.g., here, here, and here) in the wake of an updated assessment from the World Resource Institute and its partners concerning the global status of shallow-sea coral reefs.

I confess I have not had the chance to dive into the full report, but here are some key snippets from the  executive summary:

  • 60+ % of the world’s coral reefs are threatened by local sources, such as overfishing, destructive fishing methods and pollution
  • Overfishing is the “worst immediate threat,” affecting 55% of reefs.  Coastal development and land-based pollution, and maritime pollution and damage from vessels come in second and third, affecting 25% and 10% of reefs, respectively.
  • 75% of shallow-sea coral reefs are threatened by the aggregation of local and thermal stresses.
  • Despite that 25% of reefs are within protected areas, many of these are inadequate or only partial protected.

The report also offers map-based information for the current status of these ecosystems and predictions for 2030 and 2050, integrating both local and global threats.  WRI offers KLM files of these assessments/probable future scenarios here, which I quickly threw into Google Earth and centered the maps over southeast Asia, generally acknowledged to the ‘epicenter of marine diversity’.  Click on the images to embiggen; the cool-colored dots represent sites with low risk and the red – maroon dots represent sites that are increasingly threated1.

Today

 

2030


2050


Visit the World Resources Institute to check out the report, the summary, map files, and lots more (cc 3.0).  The executive summary also has a nice list of ways you can help.

 

 

1 If anyone knows how to import .kmz files into the far more figure-friendly Google Maps without wading into the land of ESRI and QGIS, and is willing to share, that would be excellent.