World Atlas of Coral Reefs

Holdsworth Associates rachel at
Wed Sep 12 09:55:56 EDT 2001

LONDON, 11 September 2001 - Scientists who have compiled the most detailed
assessment to date of coral reefs have shown that these precious marine
ecosystems occupy a much smaller area of the planet than previously
assumed. Although distributed in 101 countries and territories, where they
are vital for fisheries, coastal protection, tourism and wildlife, they
occupy less than one tenth of one percent of the oceans.

The findings give new urgency to protect and conserve these important,
valuable and seductively beautiful habitats which are under increasing
threat from activities such as dynamite fishing, pollution, and climate
change. For the first time ever we have a comprehensive assessment of
where coral reefs are and what state they are in around the world.

The World Atlas of Coral Reefs, prepared by the United Nations Environment
Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) provides a new
global estimate for coral reefs world-wide: 284 300 sq km, an area just
half the size of France.  For the first time, it also provides reef area
estimates for individual countries (see note to editors) and includes
detailed maps and statistics for all the world's coral reef nations. 

"Our new Atlas clearly shows that coral reefs are under assault," says
Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director.  "They are rapidly being degraded
by human activities.  They are over-fished, bombed and poisoned.  They are
smothered by sediment, and choked by algae growing on nutrient rich sewage
and fertilizer run-off. They are damaged by irresponsible tourism and are
being severely stressed by the warming of the world's oceans.   Each of
these pressures is bad enough in itself, but together, the cocktail is
proving lethal."

For editors: 
Press information: Rachel Holdsworth,PR consultant UNEP-WCMC,
tel 01954 202789. rachel at 

A full statement from UNEP, details of the Atlas and background
information is available  You may also find
some useful material on the web site that has been specially set up for
the launch of the book This has some photos
and maps that you may find useful. All the photos used in the book are
available to be used but those not included on web site are subject to
separate negotiation. further information is available at not the address given below

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