A global epidemic
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2017 NEW Ocean Science
The Huffington Post
The New York Times
Reef Life structures cannot solve bleaching. We can place an engineered reef structure next to a bleached, or diseased natural reef. The new reef can incubate coral spawn to enrich the oceanic community in that region, enhance tourism, grow more algae and other organisms for marine life.
Coral reefs are iconic, threatened ecosystems that have been in existence for ∼500 million years, yet their continued ecological persistence seems doubtful at present. Anthropogenic modification of chemical and physical atmospheric dynamics that cause coral death by bleaching and newly emergent diseases due to increased heat and irradiation, as well as decline in calcification caused by ocean acidification due to increased CO2, are the most important large-scale threats.
On more local scales, overfishing and destructive fisheries, coastal construction, nutrient enrichment, increased runoff and sedimentation, and the introduction of nonindigenous invasive species have caused phase shifts away from corals. Already ∼20% of the world's reefs are lost and ∼26% are under imminent threat. Conservation science of coral reefs is well advanced, but its practical application has often been lagging. Societal priorites, economic pressures, and legal/administrative systems of many countries are more prone to destroy rather than conserve coral-reef ecosystems.
Nevertheless, many examples of successful conservation exist from the national level to community-enforced local action. When effectively managed, protected areas have contributed to regeneration of coral reefs and stocks of associated marine resources. Local communities often support coral-reef conservation in order to raise income potential associated with tourism and/or improved resource levels. Coral reefs create an annual income in S-Florida alone of over $4 billion. Thus, no conflict between development, societal welfare, and coral-reef conservation needs to exist. Despite growing threats, it is not too late for decisive action to protect and save these economically and ecologically high-value ecosystems. Conservation science plays a critical role in designing effective strategies.
Poor governance and environmental degradation of fisheries habitat are primary causes of overexploited, unsustainable fisheries and poverty in fishery-dependent communities. Improved governance can result in sustainable wealth creation. Today, a substantial opportunity presents itself to recapture lost wealth in capture fisheries and to increase supply from aquaculture systems. Capitalizing on this opportunity can create livelihood and improve food security and nutrition for hundreds of millions of people. It can also increase our ability to adapt to climate change. Poor governance and environmental degradation of fisheries habitat are primary causes of overexploited, unsustainable fisheries and poverty in fishery-dependent communities.
Improved governance can result in sustainable wealth creation. Aquaculture is the source of a new and rapidly growing fish supply, offering a range of important economic opportunities. Like any rapidly growing industry, aquaculture also faces serious challenges. It has experienced 'boom and bust' cycles and environmental problems. However, with improved governance, thoughtful planning and access to information, technology and capital, aquaculture can overcome these problems. Well-managed fisheries and aquaculture can create wealth, increase food security, improve nutrition and make fishing and coastal communities more adaptive to climate change
Precision planning and execution of aquaculture processes, growth habitats and environmental upgrades are absolutes for the future of the food chain. Fisheries habitats have degraded from overexploitation, reef degradation and poor governance of fishing companies.
Opportunities to recapture lost wealth with properly created aquaculture will revitalize diminishing fish supplies, and diversity of fish species, giving jobs to fish dependent communities and food on the table. Well managed, sustainably created habitats, like these from Reef Life Restoration increase food security, increase nutrition sources, and give coastal communities an economic boost, while positively adapting to climate changes.