Damage to coral reefs could affect various critical aspects of human life and should not be viewed as merely a loss of marine biodiversity, an expert warned.
“Coral reef damage also greatly affects food security, income, the stability of the whole ecosystem, and could increase the threat of coastal disasters,” Jensi Sartin from Bali-based Reef Check Foundation Indonesia said.
“Coral reefs support the lives of many people in various sectors. It contributes some US$1.22 million to the fishery sector and $212 million to Indonesia’s marine tourism industry,” he said at a recent workshop on climate change and coral reef resilience in Amed, Karangasem.
In 2010, 13 provinces nationwide reported issues of coral bleaching, one of the most common damages to reefs, with up to 90 percent of coral in Aceh suffering from this form of damage.
“In 1998, 16 percent of the world’s coral coverage died from bleaching. The situation was worse in 2010 as the rate of bleaching reached 75 percent,” Jensi said.
“It is estimated that 80 percent of the coral reefs in Southeast Asia are threatened by higher levels of bleaching by 2030.”
The workshop, which was organized by the foundation and the global Coral Reef Alliance, was attended by representatives from the Buleleng and Karangasem regencies and coral reef conservationists, and from the two regencies and from Gili Matra in West Nusa Tenggara.
The participating researchers said coral reef conservation efforts should encompass the impact of climate change since a slight increase in sea temperature would greatly affect coral reef conditions. Their research showed that an increase of one or two degrees Celsius in sea temperature was sufficient to trigger coral bleaching.
During the workshop, participants were taught to design effective conservation efforts to counter the impact of climate change.
“We designed this workshop so local administrations and those concerned about preserving coral reefs could take climate change into account,” workshop facilitator Derta Purwita said.
The workshop was part of a series of similar events held in 18 countries supported by CORAL, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program and the US State Department.
“We will roll out this program in Bali and Gili Matra as pilot projects for our next programs in other areas,” Derta said.
Workshop participants designed coral reef conservation plans that took into account climate change.