Limiting greenhouse gas emissions, rebuilding fish stocks and improving quality of water can help protect reefs
Current levels of global warming can kill all the coral reefs in the world by 2070. Curbing global carbon emissions up to 45 per cent of 2010 levels by 2030 can help them survive, according to a study published in the Nature journal. Photo: Getty Images
Coral reefs, which cover only 0.5 per cent of the ocean floor, support almost 30 per cent of the world’s marine fish species. Besides affecting biodiversity, their loss can have large implications on nearly 400 million people who depend on them for work, food and protection in more than 100 countries across the globe. Photo: Getty Images
Rising sea temperatures during heatwaves bleached or killed corals in more than 90 per cent of reefs listed as World Heritage sites worldwide (including in the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii and Australia). In the Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest reef system — half of the corals died in 2016 and 2017 alone. Photo: Getty Images
Instead of difficult, expensive and labour-intensive approaches such as coral gardening, artificial reefs, and freezing coral sperms to restore damaged reefs, the need is to use renewable energy sources and limit coal-fired power; develop land-based aquaculture (which avoids the release of animal waste and antibiotics into the sea) and restore or rehabilitate terrestrial vegetation, wetlands, mangroves and seagrass. Photo: Getty Images
These actions would extend beyond saving the coral reefs. It will also help reduce emissions, capture carbon, protect other ecosystems by safeguarding coastal catchment areas, curb agricultural runoff onto coastal reefs and enhance people’s livelihoods and food security, said scientists from Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Photo: Getty Images
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