Environment

Threats to the Coral Triangle Ecosystem

The coral triangle, named so for the incredible biodiversity of corals at the site, is threatened by overfishing, bycatch issues, and climate change.

Where Is The Coral Triangle?

The coral triangle is a triangular tropical marine located in the Western Pacific. The area has thousands of corals including over 500 species of coral reefs. The region is home to six of the seven world’s marine turtle’s species and several species of reef fish. The area also supports a large population of tuna which is an important promoter of the multi-billion dollar tuna industry. Over 100 million people rely on the Coral Triangle for livelihood and protection from dangerous storms. However, over-reliance on the coral reef and high levels of fishing has put the marine area in great jeopardy. The focus ahead is to establish a solution for sustainable exploitation to conserve and protect the most diverse marine habitat on Earth.

Threats To The Coral Triangle

Negative fishing practices such as overfishing, non-selective fishing, and destructive fishing have caused great harm to the fragile reefs. The majority of local communities depend on fishing for their livelihood. However, fish is being depleted at a level higher than their natural recovery. The high demand for tuna has driven fishing in the area to unsustainable level. Destructive fishing methods such as the use of poison and harmful elements are widely practiced within these waters. The dynamite blasting destroys a large area of coral reef (almost 200 square feet) at a time leaving behind empty craters. The practice also kills unrelated animals living around them. Cyanide poison disables the fish making it easy for the fishermen to catch them. However, the element has a negative impact on the fish and communities whose livelihood depend on them. The non-selective fishing has led to suffering and loss of several million pounds of non-target fish species every year. The impact of bycatch has been particularly devastating to endangered marine turtles and sharks.

Climate change has negatively impacted the coastal ecosystem in the Coral Triangle through warming. The climate change has also raised the pH levels of the sea and ocean. Coral reef bleaching, rising sea levels, and acidification of the seawater has endangered the marine life including reef fish and turtles and also the million lives that depend on these animals. The reef-building corals are unable to survive in water that keeps warming. The algae are a source of food for corals that cannot survive in hot water. The loss of algae is responsible for the corals’ bleached appearance and their station. Warm ocean water also absorbs more carbon dioxide which increases its pH making it more acidic. Some marine animals such as shellfish and corals are vulnerable to acidic water since it interferes with their ability to form a hard skeleton.

Conservation Efforts

Sustainable reef fishing and tuna fisheries are being encouraged in the area by the local community in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF is also strengthening and enforcing the fishing regulations in the area. Mangrove reforestation is encouraged along the shoreline to protect the Coral Triangle from surging storms and impact of climate change. A network of marine protected area is also being established by the WWF to protect the coral reefs and seabed grass from destruction. WWF is also promoting the use of alternative fishing methods to reduce the number of bycatch.

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