05/13/2009, 00.00
PHILIPPINES – ASIA
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‘Coral Triangle’ could disappear, WWF warns

by Santosh Digal
Coral reefs and fish stock in South-East Asia are threatened by pollution and global warming. The lives and livelihoods of about 100 million people could be irremediably damaged. In the last 40 years about 40 per cent of coral reefs and mangroves have been lost.
Manila (AsiaNews) – The ‘Coral Triangle’ could disappear. With it the world would lose a major ecosystem that enables 100 million people to make a living, this according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in a recent report. For the international environmental organisation urgent steps are needed to stop the loss of coral reefs in an area that spans Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

“In the last 40 years in the Coral Triangle, we've lost 40 per cent of coral reefs and mangroves—and that's probably an underestimate,” WWF report author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said.

The Coral Triangle covers 1 per cent of the earth's surface but contains a third of all the world's coral, and three-quarters of its coral reef species.

If carbon emissions are not cut by 25 to 40 per cent by the year 2020, higher ocean temperatures could kill off vast marine ecosystems and half the fish in them.

About 100 million people now earning a living off of the sea's natural resources could be forced to leave the coast and find new employment.

Commercial fishing in the area generates roughly US$ 3 billion in annual income.

For the WWF conservation policies must be adopted by governments negotiating a new international climate change treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The US government is providing US$ 40 million in funding for a five-year programme in the Coral Triangle to improve management of marine and coastal resources.

In the Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced a government programme for the environment that includes reforestation and early warning systems against natural disasters,

Already the Filipino Congress has passed laws such as the Solid Waste Management Act, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act as mitigation measures, Ms Arroyo said.

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