Group: One fifth
world's reefs destroyed
Monday, April 25, 2005 Posted: 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
The demise of the world's coral reefs could threaten coastal
communities as global fish stocks fall, an international
conservation group said on Monday.
A fifth of the world's reefs
have been damaged beyond repair, the International Coral
Reef Initiative (ICRI) said.
Another 50 percent are under
imminent or long-term threat because of rising sea levels
most scientists blame on global warming, the group said.
"The reefs help to feed
millions of people in the developed world," the group's
co-chairman Rolph Payet told reporters at the group's annual
meeting in the Seychelles.
"Many species of fish
depend on coral reefs for their food or protection and the
collapse of the reefs would lead to elevated costs of fish
worldwide," he said.
"Coral reefs are some of
the oldest and most diverse ecosystems on the
planet," according to the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration's Web site.
Although islands are
perceived as the principal victims of coral degradation, Payet
said it could affect many other countries worldwide.
"The threat to
coral reefs is certainly not just an island problem because reefs,
including the largest ones, border continents and large countries
alike," said Payet, who is also a top environmental official
in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
industrialized countries "which contribute overwhelmingly to
global warming" to commit more money to coral reef monitoring
and management programs.
ICRI has reported
coral damage in almost 100 countries around the world, with some
parts of the Indian Ocean so badly affected researchers fear large
areas could be without any living coral within two decades.
The ICRI meeting of
scientists and government officials is expected to produce an
assessment of the damage to reefs caused by the December 26 Indian
Copyright 2005 Reuters.