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Over 80% of Indonesia coral reefs under threat JAKARTA - More than 80 percent of Indonesia's 51,000 square kilometers of coral reefs have been threatened due mainly to blast fishing practices and bleaching, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)'s new World Atlas of Coral Reefs. Indonesia, along with the Philippines, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, with between 500 and 600 species of coral in each of these countries, is home to the world's most diverse range of corals.
The sorry state of Indonesia's coral reefs is contained in a report compiled by scientists who carried out the most detailed assessment to date of coral reefs all over the world. The scientists also found that coral reefs occupy a much smaller area of the earth than previously assumed. Found in 101 countries and territories, where they are vital for fisheries, coastal protection, tourism and wildlife, they occupy less than one tenth of one percent of the oceans.
In Indonesia, 82 percent of its coral reefs are "at risk", threatened by such human activities as the illegal practice of blast fishing," UNEP said in a media statement. Explosives are the most destructive fishing method for reefs. They explode on the surface of the water, the shock wave from the blast kills the majority of fish species on the reef and causes severe damage to its structure.
The World Atlas of Coral Reefs, prepared by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC) provides a new global estimate for coral reefs worldwide: 284,300 sq km, an area just half the size of France, or 15 percent of Indonesia. For the first time, it also provides reef area estimates for individual countries and includes detailed maps and statistics for all the world's coral reef nations.
This new atlas from UNEP-WCMC builds on earlier scientific work that found some 58 percent of the world's coral reefs were threatened by human activities. It includes new information on the impacts of global warming and coral bleaching, including the El Nio event in 1998 that caused the loss of 90 percent of the corals in some parts of the Indian Ocean.
The atlas shows that Indonesia, followed by Australia and the Philippines are the largest reef nations. The findings give new urgency to protect and conserve coral reefs, which have come under increasing threats from the likes of dynamite fishing, pollution and climate change.
"Our new atlas clearly shows that coral reefs are under assault," says Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of UNEP. "They are rapidly being degraded by human activities. They are over-fished, bombed and poisoned. They are smothered by sediment, and choked by algae growing on nutrient rich sewage and fertilizer run-off. They are damaged by irresponsible tourism and are being severely stressed by the warming of the world's oceans. Each of these pressures is bad enough in itself, but together, the cocktail is proving lethal."
Coral reefs are an important source of food for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. They also provide income and employment through tourism, marine recreation, export fisheries for many coastal villages. And some entire nations are dependent on them as the only source of income and employment.
They also offer countless other benefits to humans, including compounds for medicines. AZT, a treatment for people with HIV infections is based on chemicals extracted from a Caribbean reef sponge and more than half of all new cancer drug research focuses on marine organisms.



Posted in Environment @ 13 September 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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