Humans causing profound changes in Caribbean coral reefs

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Melbourne, Jan 10 (UNI) The growing human population in the close proximity of coral reefs are becoming the cause of concern, says a new study.

Coral reefs in the Caribbean have suffered significant changes like mortality of corals, loss of fish biomass and increase in macroalgae abundance, the study suggests.

Coastal development, which increases the amount of sewage and fishing pressure, was mainly responsible for the mortality of corals and loss of fish biomass.

''In the Caribbean alone, these losses are endangering a large number of species, from corals to sharks, and jeopardising over four billion dollars in services worth from fisheries, tourism and coastal protection,'' said author Camilo Mora at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.

''The continuing degradation of coral reefs may be soon beyond repair, if threats are not identified and rapidly controlled,'' Mr Mora said.

The study was complemented with a comprehensive set of socioeconomic databases on human population density, coastal development, agricultural land use and environmental and ecological databases, which included temperature, hurricanes, productivity, coral diseases and richness of corals.

''The future of coral reefs in the Caribbean and the services they provide to a growing human population depend on how soon countries in the region become seriously committed to regulating human threats,'' stated Mr Mora.

''The expected increase of the world's human population from six billion today to nine billion for the year 2050 suggests that coral reefs are likely to witness a significant ecological crisis in the coming half century if effective conservation strategies, including policies on population planning, are not implemented soon,'' he added.

UNI XC PD HS1350

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