UNEP Report

Precht, Bill Bprecht at pbsj.com
Mon Sep 17 10:56:27 EDT 2001

Study: Reefs dying quicker

By Elaine Kurtenbach
The Associated Press

September 12, 2001

HONG KONG · Blasted by dynamite, contaminated with poisons and smothered by
pollution, coral reefs are dying faster than previously thought, according
to a study published Tuesday by the United Nations.

The U.N. Environment Program's World Conservation Monitoring Center said it
found that reefs worldwide occupy a much smaller area than previously
thought and that virtually all of Southeast Asia's reefs were threatened.

The world's reefs cover 113,720 square miles, about half the size of France
and less than one-tenth of a percent of the oceans. They are spread among
101 countries and territories.

The survey "clearly shows that coral reefs are under assault," said Klaus
Toepfer, the U.N. Environment Program's executive director. "They are
rapidly being degraded by human activities."


The U.N. Environment Program's survey is one of the most detailed
assessments of coral reefs and the first to document the size of reef areas
in each country worldwide.

Previous estimates of reef size were based on simpler maps and models and
were up to 10 times larger than the new map, said Mark Spalding, lead author
of the study.

Reefs are deteriorating in almost every country, and marine conservation is
failing to protect them, even in areas designated as protection zones,
Spalding said.

"One of the saddest facts about the demise of reefs is that it is utterly
nonsensical," said Spalding. "Protecting and managing reefs is not just for
the good of the fishes.

In every case, it also leads to economic and social benefits for local

Toepfer said the United Nations was trying to coordinate international
efforts to prevent damage to reefs caused by deforestation, urban
development and intensive agriculture. <end>


Also see:

   International Coral Reef Action Network

   News Release: April 02, 2001
   UN Foundation Announces Funding for
   International Coral Reef Action Network

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