Anthropogenic Hazards on the Coral Reefs

April 14, 2013

The past few weeks of class we have touched on how fragile the coral reefs of the world are and how necessary it is to protect them before it is too late. These ecosystems cover about one percent of the world but are a habitat for a vast amount of different aquatic species. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “Experts predict that if current pressures are allowed to continue unabated, 60 percent of the world’s coral reefs may die completely by 2050” (NOAA 2012). This coral destruction is due to many factors, natural and human-oriented, but this blog is going to specifically talk about destructive fishing techniques that are harming the coral reefs.

Blast-fishing is a fishing technique used mostly in developing nations because it is effective in stunning the fish via dynamite explosives for easier capture. The stress brought on by this type of fishing leads the coral to expel the symbiotic algae, a process called bleaching, and could possibly die. Another illegal fishing practice that is still used in these nations is cyanide fishing, which also stuns the fish allowing them to be caught alive more easily. Both of these practices are illegal, but it is obvious that more enforcement should be put into place to prevent these fishermen from destroying the coral reefs. You can see an example of blast-fishing in this video, as well as cyanide fishing here. The last fishing technique that is hurting the coral reefs is deep-water trawling. This is especially concerning because the huge nets that are used to catch a massive quality of fish end up disturbing the reefs by leaving debris and ripping out the coral (NOAA 2012). Here’s a picture of a coral that has been exposed to bleaching.

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The reason why I wanted to bring up these specific coral reef hazards is because I think that they should be and potentially could be the fastest ones to be stopped, along with preventing tourism issues, in order to preserve this ecosystem. If we don’t protect the environment from which we depend on, then how are we going to manage once they’re gone?

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Pictures found –> Here!

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