A major study
identified 15 "bright spots" among more than 2,500 coral reefs
in 46 nations, including off Indonesia, the Solomon islands and
Kiribati where given local stresses there were far more fish
And the Great Barrier Reef off Australia, the world's biggest,
was performing in line with expectations given its remoteness
and high level of protection, lead author Joshua Cinner, a
professor at James Cook University in Australia, told Reuters of
the study published on Wednesday in Nature.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, facing a tight
re-election battle, on Monday pledged an A$1 billion ($740
million) fund for the reef, which scientists say is suffering
widespread coral bleaching due to climate change.
The report found that in many coral reef bright spots, local
people depended heavily on reefs for food and took part in
owning and managing fish stocks, while many also had deep waters
near the reefs that fish could use as a refuge.
"People invest in creative solutions when their livelihoods
depend on it," Cinner said.
The study also identified 35 "dark spots", from Jamaica to
Tanzania, where there were fewer fish than expected.
In many, fishermen used nets that could snag and damage reefs.
They also had access to freezers, which gave an incentive to
catch and store extra fish, depleting stocks.
Another factor was that reefs with dark spots had recently
suffered an environmental shock, such as from a cyclone or from
a rise in water temperatures that can bleach reefs."We can learn
things from the bright spots about what to encourage," co-author
Professor Nicholas Graham of Lancaster University told Reuters.
The authors stressed that bright spots were not those with most
fish, but were outperforming expectations judged against
baselines such as the size of local populations, tourism, and
whether or not reefs were in a marine reserve.
Cinner said the study was unable to include all possible factors
due to a lack of data, including the battering that reefs get
from waves. Reefs with high "wave energy" typically have fewer
places for fish to grow and hide.
(Editing by Alexander Smith)
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