|Status of coral reefs classified by potential threat from human activities|
|(Red Sea and Arabian Gulf): Although in the past most of the region’s reefs have been reported to be in good condition, about 60 percent of these habitats were assessed as at risk primarily due to coastal development, overfishing, and the potential threat of oil spills in the heavily trafficked Arabian Gulf and southern end of the Red Sea. Almost two-thirds of Gulf reefs are at risk, largely because over 30 percent of the world’s oil tankers move through this area each year. Industrial pollution and coastal development are threats in some areas. Corals in many parts of the Gulf of Aqaba have been degraded through tourism impact and related development. Reefs in the northern Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf are espe-cially vulnerable to degradation due to limited water circulation and temperature extremes. About 8 percent of the world’s mapped reefs are found in the Middle East.|
During review of these final threat classifications, coral reef experts provided the following observations:
- Within the Gulf of Aqaba, reefs were estimated to be approximately 70 percent under low threat and 30 percent under high threat, largely from coastal development. This is regarded as a potential underestimate due to the threats posed by tourism and shipping.
- Along the coast of Yemen, most reefs were estimated to be under high threat from overexploitation. This is regarded as a potential overestimation of threat, relative to other reefs in the region.
Estimated Threat to Coral Reefs: low medium high
Data Sources: Reef locations are based on 4-kilometer-resolution gridded data reflecting shallow coral reefs of the world by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC).
Reefs are classified according to the Reefs at Risk Indicator, an estimate of potential threat to coral reefs developed at the World Resources Institute (WRI). This estimate is a composite of four separate risk factors:
- Coastal development
- Marine-based pollution
- Overexploitation, and
- Inland pollution and erosion
1. Callum Roberts, Nigel Downing, and Andrew Price, “Oil on Troubled Waters: Impacts of the Gulf War on Coral Reefs,” in Proceedings of the Colloquium on Global Aspects of Coral Reefs: Health, Hazards and History (University of Miami, 1993), 136.