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Rules proposed to save the world's coral reefs
Date:5/11/2009

An international team of scientists has proposed a set of basic rules to help save the world's imperiled coral reefs from ultimate destruction.

Their proposal is being unveiled at the World Ocean Conference 2009 in Manado, Indonesia, where leaders of six regional governments plus Australia and the United States are meeting to declare the largest-ever marine reserve in world history, the Coral Triangle Initiative.

"The catastrophic decline in the world's coral reefs demands urgent management responses on two fronts," say the researchers from the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS), The Australian Museum, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, James Cook, Perpignan and the United Nations Universities and The Nature Conservancy.

These are the "...reduction of immediate direct threats such as climate change, over-fishing and water pollution, and actions to protect or enhance the resilience of reef ecosystems in the face of existing and unavoidable future threats," they say.

The key to saving threatened coral ecosystems is to maintain the links (connectivity) between reefs allowing larvae to flow between them and re-stock depleted areas, the team led by Pew Fellow Dr Laurence McCook of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) argues.

"Ecological connectivity is critically important to the resilience of coral reefs and other ecosystems to which they are linked," says Dr McCook. "The ability of reefs to recover after disturbances or resist new stresses depends critically on the supply of larvae available to reseed populations of key organisms, such as fish and corals. For reefs to survive and prosper they must in turn be linked with other healthy reefs."

The researchers propose six 'rules of thumb' for keeping coral ecosystems viable, based on the results of research carried out in the Bohol Sea in the Philippines, the Great Barrier Reef in Australi
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Contact: Laurence MCook
l.mccook@gbrmpa.gov.au
61-074-750-0787
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Source:Eurekalert

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