All hands on deck to save coral reefs in Barbados
By Julia Rawlins-Bentham
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Barbados needs to act now to save its coral reefs! Marine Biologist at the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Angelique Brathwaite, said the reality is that the situation regarding the island's coral reefs is now "dire", and all sectors need to come together to save them.
"Our coral reefs are in serious trouble. Most of the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs such as protection and reef fish habitat could be lost in as few as another 70 years unless something is done," she said, noting that while still beautiful, many reefs were already showing increases in algae and declines in coral and reef fish abundance.
The marine biologist noted that coral reefs have been deteriorating for a number of years, due to both anthropogenic and climate-related causes. Land-based sources of marine pollution such as general runoff, sewage, gray water, pesticides and fertilisers, coupled with physical damage from boats, divers, and unsustainable fishing practices, have led to approximately half the corals on the bank reefs being lost in the space of a decade.
Added to these impacts now are those associated with global climate change (GCC), such as coral bleaching, ocean acidification, increased storm surge activity and sea level rise.
However, the marine biologist said that the battle was not lost. Brathwaite explained that research now showed corals which were less impacted by man were able to withstand the stresses of GCC. "That is something I think we all know on an instinctive level," she said.
Brathwaite noted that while Barbados could not manage or control GCC impacts on its own, if the island controlled the level of nutrients and toxins that bathe coral reefs, and prevent against physical damage, then they would have a chance.
And, she is suggesting that the only way this can be achieved, is for all the sectors to come together and develop ways of protecting the reefs.