Fast facts: why coral reefs are important to people | WWF

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$137,000-1,200,000 over a 25-year period 
  • Properly managed coral reefs can yield an average of 15 tonnes of fish and other seafood per square kilometre each year
  • Southeast Asia's coral reef fisheries alone are estimated to yield US$ 2.4 billion annually
  • More than 80% of the world's shallow reefs are severely over-fished 
  • 32 of the 34 recognised animal Phyla are found on coral reefs compared to 9 Phyla in tropical rainforests 
  • 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
  • 58% of the world's coral reefs are potentially threatened by human activity 
  • Coral reefs are found in 109 countries; significant reef degradation has occurred in 93 
  • From 1876-1979 only three bleaching events were recorded, whereas 60 are on record from 1980 until 1993; in 2002 more than 400 events were recorded 
  • 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 
  • More than 450 million people live within 60 kilometres of coral reefs, with the majority directly or indirectly deriving food and income from them 
  • The total economic value of Indonesia 's reefs is estimated at US$1.6 billion annually 
  • The total economic value of Philippine reefs is estimated at US$1.1 billion annually
  • Coral reefs in the Malacca Straits have an economic value of US$563 million 
  • 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 
  • Indonesia and the Philippines hold 77% of Southeast Asia's coral reefs and nearly 80% of threatened reefs