March 30, 2011

Reef Check Data in Reefs at Risk Revisited Report


By Reef Check Public Relations Intern Remy Franklin

World Resources Institute (WRI), a global environmental think tank, released a report this month called Reefs at Risk Revisited. The report compiled data from numerous government agencies, international organizations, research institutions, universities, nongovernmental organizations, and initiatives. Reef Check was an important partner in the report’s analysis.

The new report finds that approximately 75% of the world’s coral reefs are currently threatened by local and global pressures. Local pressures pose the most immediate threat—especially from overfishing and destructive fishing, which is particularly widespread in Southeast Asia.

Other key findings of Reefs at Risk Revisited included the following:

– The majority of the world’s coral reefs are threatened by human activities.
– Local threats to coral reefs are the most severe in Southeast Asia and least severe in Australia.
– Threat levels have increased dramatically over a ten-year period.
– Changes in climate and in ocean chemistry represent significant and growing threats.
– While over one quarter of the world’s coral reefs are within protected areas, many are ineffective or only offer partial protection.
– Dependence on coral reefs is high in many countries, especially small-island nations.
– Degradation and loss of reefs will result in significant social and economic impacts.

Reefs at Risk Revisited builds on WRI’s 1998 report, Reefs at Risk, which served as “a call to action for policymakers, scientists, nongovernmental organizations, and industry to confront one of the most pressing, though poorly understood, environmental issues”. The initial report played a critical role in raising awareness and promoting action to protect marine areas and lessen risks.

Reef Check has helped to develop a new, detailed assessment of the status of and threats to the world’s coral reefs by assisting with the Reefs at Risk Revisited project. According to WRI’s Executive Summary, the project evaluates threats to coral reefs from a wide range of human activities, and includes an assessment of climate-related threats to reefs. It also contains a global assessment of the vulnerability of nations and territories to coral reef degradation.

The results of this project will act as a catalyst for changes in policy and practice that could preserve coral reefs and the benefits they can provide for future generations. Click here to download the full report.