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Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reefs released

by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies on 9 Jul 2012
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The 12th International Coral Reef Symposium is being held from 9th to 13th July 2012 in Australia. With coral reefs around the world in rapid decline, it is imperative we make every effort to save the rest, say the world’s most top marine researchers, who are gathered this week in Cairns for the Symposium.

In an unprecedented move, more than 2000 of the world’s top marine researchers released today in Cairns, Australia, their Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reefs. It calls for a worldwide effort to overcome growing threats to coral ecosystems and to the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on them. In particular it urges measures to head off the escalating damage caused by rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, overfishing and pollution from the land.

Professor Terry Hughes, Convener of the Symposium and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies says 'When it comes to coral reefs, prevention is better than cure. If we look after the Great Barrier Reef better than we do now, it will continue to support a vibrant tourism industry into the future' he said.

'Unfortunately, in Queensland, the rush to get as much fossil fuel out of the ground as quickly as possible, before the transition to alternative sources of energy occurs, has pushed environmental concerns far into the background.'

'Australia needs to improve governance of the Great Barrier Reef, particularly coastal development and runoff, to avoid it being inscribed by UNESCO on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger.'

'While there has been much progress in establishing marine reserves around the coastline of Australia, marine parks do not prevent pollution from the land, or lessen the impact of shipping and port developments, or reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses', he said.

'There is a window of opportunity for the world to act on climate change – but it is closing rapidly,' he said.

Meantime, there are plenty of positive local actions that can also be taken, such as:
• Rebuild fish stocks to restore key ecosystem functions
• Reduce runoff and pollutants from the land
• Reduce destruction of mangrove, seagrass and coral reef habitats
• Protect key ecosystems by establishing marine protected areas
• Rebuild populations of megafauna such as dugongs and turtles
• Promote reef tourism and sustainable fishing rather than destructive industries
• Use aquaculture, without increasing pollution and runoff, to reduce pressure on wild stocks.

For full details of the Consensus Statement on Coral Reefs, click ARC Centre of Excellent for Coral Reef Studies website
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