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OCEANS ON THE EDGE
Where are coral reefs found?
Shallow water <25m
Around the tropics
Uses of coral reefs
Exploitation for fish: 4000 species, 25% of world's fish, 25% of world's commercial fish
Shoreline protection: protect from storms, tsunamis and wave erosion. Reefs can grow in
rising sea levels to protect against the effects of climate change.
Aquamarine trade: reefs supply tropical fish, sea horses and plants for the aquarium trade.
Tourism: Caribbean gets over half income from tourism.
Education/Research: reefs can be visited easily to learn about marine life/biology.
Other: medicines, decorative objects, jewellery, lime for building and cement.
Human threats to coral reefs
Climate change -> rising sea levels, stronger waves and storms -> breaks coral
Higher temperatures go over 26C so coral can adapt and survive
Exploitation through aquamarine trade damages ecosystems
Pollution increases disease e.g. black band coral disease
Boat anchors and sailing cause damage to coral
Over fishing disrupts ecosystems and use of dynamite destroys coral
Water pollution - sewage, farming and tourism is toxic, causing death (and eutrophication).
Tourism causes damage through the following ways:
Trampling and snorkelling damage coral More demand for seafood = overfishing
Sewage and waste pollute water Construction of hotels etc
Sun cream changes pH of water Beach enhancement: sand ruins coral
Pontoons floating hotels damage coral Concrete near the coast increases run off
of waste water = water pollution
More demand for shells and coral
Threats to marine food webs
Overfishing: damages ecosystems and can result
in decline in numbers or even extinction. E.g.
suction harvesting for bait in fish farms and
omega 3 tablets resulted in decrease of 80% in
the Krill pop. since 1980. (key stone species)
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Habitat destruction: animals have to migrate and may not be able to adapt, resulting in a
decline in their numbers or possible extinction
Pollution: damages nutrient cycles and depletes oxygen resulting in dead zones
Higher temp. kills algae resulting in coral bleaching
Extreme weathers e.g. storms and floods increase pollution and siltation through increased run
off, damaging coral.
Glaciers melt and cause decrease in salt concentration in the sea, affecting ocean currents. This
will cause changes in temperature.…read more
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Areas are sectioned off for specific purposes: yacht mooring, marine reserves, recreational
areas, fishing priority areas and dive sites.
Numbers, sizes and diversity of fish species have increased.
Many stakeholders are now involved in marine conservation.
However, area has become so popular that marine environment is threatened by mass
Rapid development in Soufriere encourages siltation and pollution.
Local people trained and educated to manage the scheme.
Rangers who police are had to be equipped expensive.…read more
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This means that
water and air above. all states can fish in this zone so overfishing is more likely.
UNCLOS addresses ocean pollution from land-based/coastal activities, continental shelf
drilling for gas and oil, seabed mining, ocean dumping and pollution from ships.
1974: Helsinki Convention developed programmes to manage marine pollution.
This led to UN Environment Programmes where states work together to clean up seas.…read more