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Management of bleached and severely damaged coral reefs
Wells, S. (2000). Management of bleached and severely damaged coral reefs. CORDIO-East Africa: [s.l.]. 2 pp.

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  • Wells, S.

    Coral reefs are now recognised as the most diverse ecosystems in the sea and of immense economic importance. In 1998/1999 a major coral bleaching event (linked to El Niño and almost certainly to climate change) caused extensive reef damage throughout the Indian Ocean, with coral mortality exceeding 90% in some areas. This can be likened to large areas of tropical rainforest being razed to the ground. There is an urgent need to take immediate action. We need to stimulate a response comparable to the international reaction to the forest fires in Indonesia, which generated intense international concern and rapid response planning. Protection of the few remaining healthy reefs, as well as those that are largely damaged, is now critical if the reef ecosystems as a whole are to have any chance of recovery. The future livelihoods of human populations dependent on reefs will depend on reef recovery. Countries of the Indian Ocean are now at serious risk of losing this valuable ecosystem. The economy of Maldives, for example, has traditionally been based on fisheries and tourism. Both of these activities can be linked directly to the reefs, which have been severely affected by bleaching. This, combined with ongoing additional human impacts of over-fishing, pollution and coastal development, will potentially have major economic and ecological impacts. Crucial management questions are now being raised in many areas. Managers are already asking how they should deal with this situation: whether the reefs will recover and - if they will - what actions they should take to aid and accelerate regeneration; how can they convince policy makers and government agencies of the value of maintaining marine parks and conservation efforts in the face of dead or dying reefs; should they be investing in what may be costly and risky reef rehabilitation projects; and what economic impact will degradation have and how can such impacts be mitigated?

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