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Fish news
New approach needed to save our reefs

A group of scientist from UK, Australia, the US, Sweden and France are arguing that we need to rethink how we protect our marine environment if we want to protect our reefs. The way we protect vulnerable areas today will not suffice to save the coral reefs from the threat of global warming.

reef New approach needed to save our reefs

The type of small protected areas that we use today were designed by researchers in the 60s and 70s and is good to prevent species from going extinct due to fishing etc but are not enough to protect against the treats reefs are facing today like global warming. This is the conclusion they have reached after extensive studies carried out in over 66 sites across seven countries over more than a decade. The team has published their result in the journal PLoS ONE. The study is the biggest of its kind done to date.

It is however important to stress that they don’t think the present protected areas are to be removed or that new such areas shouldn’t be protected. What they are saying is that this work has to be complemented with a new type of protected areas that need to be located in the right places.

Lead researcher Nick Graham, of Newcastle University’s School of Marine Science and Technology, said: “We need a whole new approach – and we need to act now.

The research the scientist did shows that the location of the protected areas are very important and that many of the world’s existing protected areas are in the wrong place to protect the reefs. New protected areas need to be setup in new locations and the focus need to change from protecting small areas to protecting entire reef systems. It is important to minimize the human impact on the reefs from actions such as over-fishing, pollution and sedimentation as coral dies if they are put under to much stress. If we remove other sources of stress the reef becomes more likely to survive the stress caused by increased water temperature caused by global warming.

Although the research seems to show a grim future with a lot of reef being damaged and showing signs of long-term degradation there were also good signs with some reefs remaining healthy or even recovering from earlier damages.

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