The findings of the largest coral reef survey and mapping research mission in history has been released.
The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) has released a report of its findings from the Global Reef Expedition—the result of ten years of assessing the state of coral reefs worldwide.
Considered the largest coral reef survey and mapping research mission in history, the findings provides a baseline data on their status and offering key insights on how to save them in a rapidly changing world.
The Expedition involved hundreds of scientists worldwide who conducted tens of thousands of standardised scientific surveys at more than 1,000 reefs in 16 countries. They collaborated with local experts, managers, educators and government officials to survey and map the coral reefs.
One of the main findings highlighted the problem of overfishing, which was found in nearly every country studied. According to lead author Renée Carlton, a marine ecologist at KSLOF, having fewer and smaller fish at the reefs affects the health of the reef as well as the people who depend on them for protein and income.
According to her, the best reefs tended to be those that were remote and well-managed, even though this was not always true. “We know marine protected areas work, in most instances these reefs had some of the best coral cover and reef fish communities, but climate change, storms, and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish can still have deadly consequences to a reef, no matter how remote or well-protected it is.”
The report suggests swift action to address the problems of climate change and overfishing. It also proposes management efforts, like reducing pollution and establishing marine protected areas to alleviate the impact of such global problems.
“Findings from the Global Reef Expedition are already helping countries protect and preserve their reefs and coastal marine resources,” said Alexandra Dempsey, KSLOF's Director of Science Management.
“Marine protected areas, fisheries closures, and traditionally managed areas have been established in The Bahamas, Jamaica, Fiji, and the Cook Islands, using information collected on the Expedition.”