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World Report View

"Coral Reefs: The Canaries in Our Ocean's Coal Mine"

by Vani Miglani | 18-02-2023 16:13 recommendations 0

Coral reefs are highly diverse and productive ecosystems that support millions of species and provide crucial services to human societies. Unfortunately, these ecosystems are currently facing unprecedented threats that jeopardize their existence. 

The biggest threat to coral reefs is climate change. Rising temperatures and increased acidity of ocean water due to carbon emissions are causing widespread coral bleaching and death. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 75% of the world's coral reefs are at risk from climate change. In 2020, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia suffered its third mass bleaching event in just five years, putting the world's largest coral reef system under severe stress.

Overfishing and destructive fishing practices also contribute to the decline of coral reefs. Overfishing reduces the number of herbivorous fish that help control algae growth on coral reefs, leading to smothering of coral colonies. Destructive fishing methods such as dynamite fishing and cyanide poisoning destroy coral reefs directly. As a result, the abundance of fish on coral reefs has declined by more than 50% in the past few decades.

Pollution is another major threat to coral reefs. Chemicals and sediment from agricultural runoff, sewage, and coastal development can damage coral reefs and reduce water quality, leading to the loss of coral reefs' resilience. In 2019, the island of Okinawa in Japan experienced a mass coral bleaching event caused by wastewater discharge from a nearby coal-fired power plant.

Coral reefs are endangered due to a range of human-driven activities, including climate change, overfishing, destructive fishing practices, and pollution. The continued loss of coral reefs would have devastating impacts on both the marine environment and the people who depend on them. Therefore, urgent action is needed to address these threats and protect these vital ecosystems.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Coral Reefs, Climate, and Change: A Global Perspective." National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2018, https://www.nodc.noaa.gov/General/NODC-Archive/corals/pubs/Reef_Climate_Change_Booklet.pdf.


  • India E-gen Ambassador Vani Miglani


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