THREATENED ECOSYSTEMS: CORAL REEFS
Many countries with coral reefs generate significant portions of their income through tourism. Studies show that on average, countries with coral reef industries derive more than half of their GNP* from them…
In marine areas (around coastal waters, reefs, beaches and shorelines, offshore waters, uplands and lagoons) many tourist activities occur in or around fragile ecosystems:
There are 109 countries with coral reefs…
- anchoring, snorkelling, sport fishing and scuba diving, yachting and cruising are some of the activities that can cause direct degradation of marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, and subsequent impacts on coastal protection and fisheries.
In 90 of them reefs are being damaged by cruise ship anchors and sewage, by tourists breaking off chunks of coral, and by commercial harvesting for sale to tourists:
The world has lost an estimated 27% of its coral reefs, and if nothing is done to change current trends, 60% of the world's reefs could be lost by 2030**.
- one study of a cruise ship anchor dropped in a coral reef for one day found an area about half the size of a football field completely destroyed, and half again as much covered by rubble that died later. It was estimated that coral recovery would take 50 years;
- the casting of a single anchor can destroy 190 square meters of coral.
* GNP: Gross National Product.
** The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, "Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2000”.