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Coral Reefs death could devastate nations

Posted on Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 at 6:44 pm by

Deterioration of coral reefs around the world could lead to the demise of many nations. Reefs around the world are an integral part of the oceans’ ecosystems and food chains. Much of the fish consumed around the world, depends at least in part, on the existence and stability of the earth’s coral reefs. it is estimated that over a billion people depend on these fish for both food and livelihood.

Several studies have shown that reefs around the world are headed for extinction due to low oxygen levels, global warming, and damage caused by fishing boats. “You could argue that a complete collapse of the marine ecosystem would be one of the consequences of losing corals,” said Old Dominion University professor Kent Carpenter, director of a Worldwide Census of Marine Species. “You’re going to have a tremendous cascade effect for all life in the oceans.”

So what impact could this have? Well, as the reefs disintegrate, the impact travels up the food chain, and commonly consumed species lose their food source and become scarce. This will also impact other invertebrates that play a large part in the marine food industry. The economic implications should not be overlooked as the fishing industry employs over 160 million people worldwide. In addition to effecting the availability of a food source, the income provided by snorkeling, scuba diving, and other resort activities which rely on the existence of such reefs is in danger. Hawaii, Florida, many Caribbean and Southeast Asia countries rely on tourism as a major source of income. Some regularly comprise almost half of their national gross product from tourist activity based in reef and coral related experiences.

Marine biologist Jane Lubchenco says “Reefs are precious sources of food, medicine and livelihoods for hundreds of thousands around the world. They are also special places of renewal and recreation for thousands more. Their exotic beauty and diverse bounty are global treasures.”

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