Urgent measures needed to stop Caribbean coral decline: group
In this Dec. 2005 file photo provided by the National Park Service shows National Park Service fisheries biologist Jeff Miller examining the coral reef in the Buck Island Reef National Monument in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. (AP / U.S. Geological Survey, Caroline Rogers)
Published Friday, September 7, 2012 1:15PM EDT
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- An international conservation organization is painting a grim picture of the Caribbean's iconic coral reefs.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says the Caribbean's reefs are in sharp decline, with live coral coverage down to an average of just 8 per cent. That's down from 50 per cent in the 1970s. The non-governmental organization released a report Friday at an international environmental conference in Korea.
The causes include overfishing, pollution, disease and bleaching caused by rising global temperatures. The group says the situation is somewhat better in some places, including the Dutch islands of the southern Caribbean and the British territory of the Cayman Islands, with up to 30 per cent cover in places.
But the union concludes that "time is running out" and new safeguards are urgently needed.