Indonesia: Coral reefs, vital for maintaining food supply

Fardah Antara 17 Jul 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Coral reefs are not just beautiful but also crucial for maintaining the food supply for millions of people living along the coast all over the world.

Some 850 million people live within 100km of a coral reef - known as the "rainforest of the ocean" - and derive some economic benefits from the services provided by their ecosystem.

Besides, coral reefs, which are biologically diverse and delicate ecosystems in the world, are also vital for protecting the shoreline of low-lying island nations.

Nevertheless, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) estimates that about 20 per cent of the worlds coral reefs have been destroyed and another 60 per cent are under threat.

Those facts were highlighted during a consultation meeting on the implementation of the 2nd United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) Resolution on Coral Reefs held in Manado on June 28 and 29, 2016.

Representatives from 61 countries participated in the Manado meeting held by the UNEP in cooperation with the local government of North Sulawesi, according to Director General on Sea Management at the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry Brahmantya Satyamurti Poerwali.

The participating countries included Indonesia, Grenada, Eritrea, and Fiji, in addition to Maldives, Madagascar, Vietnam, and Thailand. The other countries were Malaysia, Somalia, Seychelles, and the Philippines, in addition to Antigua. Delegations from the UNEP and the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) were also present.

This consultation meeting was a follow up action of Resolution 2/12 on Sustainable Coral Reefs Management that was adopted during UNEA-2 in May 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The meeting was aimed at identifying opportunities for implementing actions on a coral reef policy and management in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; prioritize follow-up actions by the UNEP, including support provided to member states in implementing the resolution; as well as to identify technical, operational and financial needs in implementation of the resolution.

The Resolution 2/12 on sustainable coral reefs management calls for initiatives, cooperation and commitments to conserve and sustainably manage coral reefs, including cold-water coral ecosystems and mangroves; recognizes that education, capacity-building and knowledge transfer is crucial; and encourages integrated, ecosystem-based and comprehensive approaches including partnerships with industry, as well as establishment of MPAs and other spatial and relevant sectoral approaches to enhance climate change resilience.

The resolution further requests the UNEP to pursue a number of specific actions, inter alia in relation to awareness raising; knowledge transfer; coral reef climate change resilience; and coral reef policy instruments; apart from development and implementation of national or regional measures and action plans; and development of indicators and assessment of coral reef status and trends.

Coordinator of the UNEPs Pacific Office Sefania Nawadra said in the meeting that damage to coral reefs may have an adverse impact on food security worldwide.

Therefore, the sustainable management of coral reefs is of great importance for ensuring food security and nutrition for mankind, Sefania noted, and added that food security affects human life globally.

Since it is more difficult to manage human beings than to manage the environment, it is necessary to change the publics mindset by asking them not dump plastic or trash anywhere, apart from a lot else, he said.

Global food security will face problems, marked by extraordinary happenings as a result of food poisoning, Sefania further said. Therefore, there should be intervention in food security.

To handle food security-related problems it is not enough to deal with their impact, such as the extraordinary events caused by food poisoning, he stated.

"That is why it is very important to prevent them (such events) through education," he said.

Coral reefs are uniquely vulnerable to climate change, in particular, and most immediately to temperature increase. Implementation of the UNEA-2 resolution on sustainable coral reefs management provides opportunities to address climate vulnerability as well as direct stress on coral reefs while supporting development based on a blue economy

Coral reefs occur in over 100 countries and territories worldwide. About half a billion people draw direct benefits from coral reef ecosystem services. Coral reef fisheries are a critical source of protein for tens of millions of people, and coral reef tourism provides a significant source of foreign exchange for many countries.

The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) report Status of Coral Reefs of the World 2008 found that a fifth of the worlds area of coral reefs has already been lost, with 15 percent of reefs at risk of being lost within the next 10 to 20 years and a further 20 percent under threat of loss in 20 to 40 years.

The most recent global threat-based assessment of coral reefs, Reefs at Risk Revisited 2011, estimated that two thirds of coral reefs in the world are under immediate and direct threat from human activities.

Overfishing was identified as the most pervasive immediate threat, affecting more than 55 percent of the worlds reefs, followed by coastal development and watershed-based pollution, each estimated to threaten about a quarter of reefs.

The assessment further noted, "the combined impacts of ocean warming and acidification will increase the threat levels on more than half of all reefs by 2030, pushing the percentage of threatened reefs to more than 90 percent by 2030."

Meanwhile, North Sulawesi Vice Governor Steven Kandouw expressed pride at the fact that the meeting was held in Manado, which is home to the Secretariat Office of the CTI.

Besides, North Sulawesi hosts one of the worlds most amazing coral reefs, found in Bunaken Maritime National Park.(*)

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