According to findings in a May 9 article in Current Biology, coral reefs are in decline, but their collapse can still be avoided with local and global action. To predict the reefs’ future, the researchers spent two years constructing a computer model of how reefs work, building on hundreds of studies conducted over the last 40 years. They then combined their reef model with climate models to make predictions about the balance between forces that will allow reefs to continue growing their complex calcium carbonate structures and those such as hurricanes and erosion that will shrink them. read more
A Chinese boat that ran into a coral reef in the southwestern Philippines held evidence of even more environmental destruction inside: more than 22,000 pounds of meat from a protected species, the pangolin or scaly anteater. The steel-hulled vessel hit an atoll April 8 at the Tubbataha National Marine Park, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site on Palawan island. Coast guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo said yesterday that 400 boxes, each containing 25 to 30 kilograms of frozen pangolins, were discovered during a second inspection of the boat Saturday. Source article can be found here.
Leading international marine scientists have called for the protection of more, large marine wilderness areas in a bid to shield the world’s dwindling stocks of fish from destruction. Working in the world’s largest unfished marine reserve, the remote Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean, scientists from Australia and the US have shown there is a dramatic difference in the numbers, size and variety of fish compared with smaller marine parks. Their findings in two new reports provide the world’s first clear evidence that large-scale marine wilderness reserves are better for conserving fish than the far more common, small marine protected areas (MPAs) that many governments and fishing communities are presently implementing. “The bottom line is that we found six times more fish in the Chagos ‘no take’ area than we did in even the best-managed Marine Reserves elsewhere in the Indian Ocean,” says lead author of the reports, Dr Nick Graham of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University. The researchers acknowledge that marine reserves closer to centres of human population require different kinds of management and need to be smaller, to ensure that people can still draw their livelihoods and food from the sea – and these smaller marine reserves also provide important conservation gains. Source article can be found here.
A new study may answer the question of why some corals bleach and others do not, even when exposed to the same environmental conditions. The study suggests that the corals themselves play a role in their susceptibility to deadly coral bleaching due to the light-scattering properties of their skeletons. A team from Northwestern University and The Field Museum of Natural History found that reef-building corals scatter light in different ways to the symbiotic algae that feed the corals. Corals that are less efficient at light scattering retain algae better under stressful conditions and are more likely to survive. Corals whose skeletons scatter light most efficiently have an advantage under normal conditions, but they suffer the most damage when stressed. read more
Traditional community-run marine reserves and fisheries can play a big role in helping to restore and maintain fish numbers in stressed developing nations’ coral reef fisheries. Using genetic ‘fin-printing’, an international team of scientists has gathered the first clear proof that small traditional fishing grounds that are effectively managed by local communities can help re-stock both themselves and surrounding marine areas. The finding has big implications for hundreds of millions of people around the world who depend on coral reefs for food and livelihood. In an article in Current Biology the researchers report finding the offspring of protected coral trout breeding in community-managed areas in Papua New Guinea were plentiful both in the managed area and in surrounding fishery tenures. “This is a really important finding, because it shows that small community-run fisheries can preserve their fish stocks – and can boost fish stocks in a surrounding radius of 30 kilometres or more,” says lead author Dr Glenn Almany of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University. “It’s proof that traditional local fishery management pays off – and that is particularly critical in countries around the world where government fisheries schemes are lacking or poorly enforced. Some of this traditional marine management has operated for centuries. We’re providing the hard scientific evidence that it works,” says Dr Richard Hamilton from The Nature Conservancy. “We didn’t have to explain our results to the local fishers – they got it at once” says Dr Hamilton. “It gives them the confidence they need to get behind traditional fisheries management or government-introduced marine parks – because more fish will be caught locally.