Most Caribbean coral reefs will disappear within the next 20 years unless action is taken to protect them, primarily due to the decline of grazers such as sea urchins and parrotfish, a new report has warned.
A comprehensive analysis by 90 experts of more than 35,000 surveys conducted at nearly 100 Caribbean locations since 1970 shows that the region’s corals have declined by more than 50 percent.
But restoring key fish populations and improving protection from overfishing and pollution could help the reefs recover and make them more resilient to the impacts of climate change, according to the study from the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the United Nations Environment Program.
While climate change and the resulting ocean acidification and coral bleaching does pose a major threat to the region, the report — Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012 — found that local pressures such as tourism, overfishing, and pollution posed the biggest problems.
And these factors have made the loss of the two main grazer species, the parrotfish and sea urchin, the key driver of cor... Read more