Coral Reefs

Coral reefs have taken on the role of a sort of litmus paper of the state of health of coastal and marine resources. Since the mid-1980s, concerns about the decline in coral reefs have increased and reflected in a range of initiatives for their study and monitoring, such as an IOC subregional study in South Asia (including Maldives).

These various initiatives are among those contributing to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, cosponsored by UNEP, the World Bank, IUCN and the IOC.

Among the outputs of the network is the biennial ‘Status of Coral Reefs of the World’, of which the 2004 version documents how human activities continue to be the primary cause of the severe degradation of coral reefs worldwide. The report details many new initiatives aimed at reversing this degradation such as by conserving the biodiversity, the economic value and beauty of coral reefs. All but three of the twenty-one chapters report on the status of coral reefs in different regions of the world, including trends in individual SIDS.

In 2006, a 154-page study on ‘Status of Coral Reefs in Tsunami Affected Countries: 2005’ included separate chapters on Maldives and Seychelles.

Three assessments are scheduled for release in 2008:

  • Status of Caribbean Coral Reefs after Bleaching and Hurricanes in 2005. Release date -- January 2008, as the first product of The International Year of the Reef: 2008, at the International Coral Reef Initiative Meeting in Washington DC, USA. Among other presentations of the principal findings of the report was that organized at UNESCO House in Paris on 4 February by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission;
  • Effective Catchment Management and Coral Reef Conservation: Best Practice Case Studies . Release date -- March 2008, at the Ocean Sciences meeting in Orlando Florida, USA; and
  • Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008. Release date -- July 2008, at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

A related initiative is the IOC/World Bank Study Group on Coral Bleaching and Local Ecological Responses. This group was set-up in 2000, with the purpose of integrating, synthesizing and developing global research on coral bleaching. Among the more specific objectives is to develop indicators of coral bleaching of various kinds (molecular, cellular, physiological, community), capable of detecting stress responses due to changes in variables such as sea surface temperature and UV

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