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Slideshow: New Report Reveals Threats to Reefs in the Coral Triangle

The Coral Triangle, an area stretching from southeast Asia to the edge of the western Pacific, is one of the most biologically diverse marine regions on earth. The area holds 30 percent of the world’s coral reefs and 75 percent of all known coral species. The region’s coral reefs provide food and livelihoods to more than 130 million people living within the Coral Triangle, as well to millions more worldwide.

Despite its importance, the Coral Triangle is the most endangered coral region on earth, with 85 percent of its reefs threatened by local activities like overfishing and destructive fishing, coastal development, and pollution. WRI and partners recently released a new report documenting this situation, Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle. The report provides both a region-wide and country-level perspective on the status of and threats to coral reefs off the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. It also calls attention to the vulnerability of coral reefs in the Coral Triangle and factors leading to degradation and loss. The report aims to set priorities for management of reefs in the region.

This slideshow highlights images from the Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle report. Scroll through the photos and maps to learn more about the value coral reefs have for countries in the Coral Triangle, the threats reefs face, and actions that can help protect these vital ecosystems.

Slideshow:

The Coral Triangle

Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle

Use the arrows above to explore images from WRI's new report, Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle. You can also get more information by downloading the full report.

Photo Credit: WRI


Value

The Coral Triangle, an area stretching from southeast Asia to the edge of the western Pacific, features immense biodiversity. The marine region contains nearly 30 percent of the world’s coral reefs and more than 3,000 species of fish—twice the number found anywhere else in the world.

Photo Credit: WRI


Value

More than 130 million people living in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste rely on the Coral Triangle's reef ecosystems for food, employment, and revenue from tourism. Here, a fisherman in Indonesia shows off his catch.

Photo Credit: Alessio Viora


Threats

Despite their importance, coral reefs in the Coral Triangle Region face unprecedented threats. Ultimately, the Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle report found that 85 percent of the region’s reefs are at risk from local human activities such as overfishing, destructive fishing, coastal development, and land-based pollution. This map displays coral reefs classified by the local threat levels they face.

Photo credit: WRI


Threats

The most widespread local threat to coral reefs in the Coral Triangle is overfishing, including destructive fishing, which threatens nearly 85 percent of reefs. This Indonesian reef was destroyed by blast fishing, a process where fishermen use explosives to stun or kill fish, making for easy harvesting.

Photo credit: Wolcott Henry


Threats

Watershed-based pollution threatens 45 percent of reefs in the Coral Triangle. Impacts from coastal development threaten more than 30 percent of the region’s reefs.

Photo credit: Malik Naumann


Threats

Rising ocean temperatures are causing mass coral bleaching, a stress response that can weaken or kill coral. When local threats are combined with recent coral bleaching, the percent of reefs rated as threatened increases to more than 90 percent.

Photo credit: Wolcott Henry


Impact

The Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle report calls attention to the vulnerability of coral reefs in the Coral Triangle and factors leading to degradation and loss. On the list of countries most vulnerable to social and economic impacts from the loss of coral reef services such as food, employment, and shoreline protection, five of the six Coral Triangle countries topped the list.

Photo credit: Rebecca Weeks


Impact

The Philippines is the most vulnerable country in the world to the social and economic implications of reef degradation and loss. More than 40 million people live within 30 kilometers of a coral reef, about 45 percent of the country's population. Approximately 2 million people in the Philippines depend on fisheries for employment, with about 1 million small-scale fishers directly dependent on reef fisheries.

Photo credit: PATH Foundation


Impact

An assessment of the existing coverage and management effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Coral Triangle found that 16 percent of the region’s coral reefs are inside MPAs, which is substantially lower than the global average of 28 percent. Less than one percent of MPAs in the Coral Triangle were found to be fully effective at reducing threats such as overfishing and destructive fishing.

Photo credit: Robert Delfs


Act Now!

Coral reefs are severely threatened by a combination of local and global threats, but there is still hope ̶ by nature, reefs are resilient. They can recover from bleaching and other impacts, particularly when local pressures like overfishing and destructive fishing, coastal development, and pollution are reduced.

Photo credit: Liew Shan sern


Act Now!

As communities around the world work to mitigate local stressors, the international community needs to do more to decrease global pressures, by curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo credit: Jeff Yonover


Learn More

Learn more about Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle and what you can do to reduce both global and local threats and safeguard coral reefs for the future at wri.org/reefs.

Photo credit: Jeff Yonover


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