A new assessment of the coral reefs of the Western Indian Ocean shows that they are all at high risk of collapse within the next five decades. Ocean warming and overfishing were identified as the main threats.
In the study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-021-00817-0 coral reefs in ten countries in the Western Indian Ocean were split into 11 sub-regions, and assessed using the criteria of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems, a framework developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to assess how close ecosystems are to collapse. Reefs in all sub-regions were found to be at high risk of complete ecosystem collapse and irreversible damage.
“We’ve known for some time that coral reefs are in decline, but now we know more precisely to what degree, and why,” said lead author Dr. David Obura, Founding Director at Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO East Africa) and Chair of the IUCN SSC Corals Specialist Group. “This assessment reaffirms the urgency of the interlinked climate and biodiversity crises addressed by COP26 last month in Glasgow, and COP15 in a few months in Kunming. We need to take decisive action to address both global threats to corals from climate change, and local ones, such as overfishing.”
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