Fast facts: why coral reefs are important to people

Financially and biologically...

  • Counting only the economic value of fisheries, tourism, and shoreline protection, the costs of destroying 1km of coral reef ranges between US$137,000-1,200,000 over a 25-year period (World Resources Institute (WRI))

  • Properly managed coral reefs can yield an average of 15 tonnes of fish and other seafood per square kilometre each year (WRI)

  • Southeast Asia's coral reef fisheries alone are estimated to yield US$ 2.4 billion annually (WRI press release)

  • More than 80% of the world's shallow reefs are severely over-fished (Australian Government Report (PDF file))

  • 32 of the 34 recognised animal Phyla are found on coral reefs compared to 9 Phyla in tropical rainforests (Status of Coral Reefs of the World, GCRMN)

  • Occupying less than one quarter of 1% of the marine environment, coral reefs are home to more than 25% of all known marine fish species (WRI Reefs at Risk)

  • 58% of the world's coral reefs are potentially threatened by human activity (WRI Reefs at Risk)

  • Coral reefs are found in 109 countries; significant reef degradation has occurred in 93 (Seaweb)

  • From 1876-1979 only three bleaching events were recorded, whereas 60 are on record from 1980 until 1993 (Glynn, P.W. 1993. Coral reef bleaching: ecological perspectives. Coral Reefs 12:1-17); in 2002 more than 400 events were recorded (Reef education (Australia), UNEP)

  • We have already lost 27% of the world's coral reefs. If present rates of destruction are allowed to continue, 60% of the world's coral reefs will be destroyed over the next 30 years (Cesar, Degradation report, PDF file)

  • More than 450 million people live within 60 kilometres of coral reefs, with the majority directly or indirectly deriving food and income from them (Seaweb)

  • The total economic value of Indonesia 's reefs is estimated at US$1.6 billion annually (WRI press release)

  • The total economic value of Philippine reefs is estimated at US$1.1 billion annually (WRI press release)

  • Coral reefs in the Malacca Straits have an economic value of US$563 million (WRI press Release)

  • Southeast Asia is considered the global epicentre of marine diversity. Its 100,000km2 of coral reefs (34% of the world's total) are home to over 600 of the 800 reef-building coral species in the world (WRI press release)

  • Indonesia and the Philippines hold 77% of Southeat Asia's coral reefs and nearly 80% of threatened reefs (WRI press release)

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