Now is a critical time for coral reefs. At the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) held in July 2008, midway in the International Year of the Reef, over 3000 experts from 75 countries assembled to face some hard truths: coral reefs are teetering on the edge of survival and it is our fault. Reefs may be largely history in 50 years.
Call to Action
- Cut CO2 emissions by lowering our carbon footprint and ask our policymakers to commit to low carbon economic growth.
- Eliminate open access fisheries in coral reef ecosystems. Establish and enforce regulations on user rights, total allowable catch, individual catch quotas, non-destructive gear and other sustainable fisheries regulations.
- Protect coral reef herbivores, including parrotfish.
- Ban the harvesting of these species for sale and commercial consumption.
- Establish and strictly enforce networks of Marine Protected Areas that include No-Take Areas.
- Consult with local communities and authorities on design and benefit sharing to maximise returns and build sustainability into the process, in order to protect marine biodiversity and restore vital fish stocks.
- Effectively manage the waters in between Marine Protected Areas. The enforcement of coastal zoning, environmental impact assessments and ‘polluter pays’ regulations can help control marine and land-based sources of pollution, while strategic environmental assessment can effectively manage coastal development and tourism.
- Maintain connectivity between coral reefs and associated habitats. Mangroves, seagrass beds and lagoons contribute to the integrity of reef ecosystems and their continued production of ecosystem services.
- Report regularly and publicly on the health of local coral reefs. Include assessments of the effectiveness of management and conservation measures.
- Recognise the links between what we do on land and how it affects the ocean. We live on a blue planet - our health depends on ocean health.
Bring local actors together to develop a shared vision of healthy reefs and a road map for getting there. Engage members of industry, civil society, local government and the scientific community to set ambitious targets and performance indicators.
- Work for change with management to produce desired outcomes.
Source: 11th International Coral Reef Symposium 2008 Call to Action
The next ICRS will be in Cairns, Australia in 2012.