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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Saving Coral Reefs Worldwide

Fish swimming around coral reef

pyvovarova yevheniia/Unsplash.com

The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) has urged governments to take action to save the planet’s remaining coral reefs and their attendant fish populations, because collective human impacts are leaving fewer places untouched, with only 15 percent of the Earth’s land mass formally protected and global biodiversity declining at an unprecedented rate. To that end, a new online data platform, MERMAID helps scientists and management officials collect, organize and disseminate data on reef fish biomass and diversity, as well as the cover of hard corals, fleshy algae and other benthic groups—all identified by ICRI as key indicators of coral reef health, integrity and function.

The newly published 5th Global Biodiversity Outlook and other sources endorsed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services clearly indicate that governments are failing to meet existing global targets for biodiversity and that critical ecosystems like coral reefs will be altered to the point that the biodiversity they harbor, and the services they provide, will be irreparably damaged. Currently, only 2.5 percent of the world’s reefs are being actively protected.