Submitted by Reef Check Malaysia
They may seem invisible and lifeless, but coral reefs are the most important marine ecosystem in Asia-Pacific. They provide shelter to millions of marine lives, and support the livelihoods of more than 500 million people in the region. Despite their importance, coral reefs face multiple threats – overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction – all made worse with climate change and rapid economic development.
The annual Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Symposium (APCRS) was therefore created to address these issues and help them continue their ecological functioning now and in the future. It acts as a forum for scientists, educators, managers, environmentalists, policy makers and relevant stakeholders from key organizations in Asia-Pacific to share their knowledge and experiences on all aspects of coral reef biology, ecology, management and conservation.
At this year’s APCRS, held June 23-27 in Pingtung, Taiwan, Reef Check Malaysia was selected to present a paper on the “Status of Reefs in Selected Southeast Asia Countries.” In 2012, the status of Southeast Asia’s coral reefs was determined using Reef Check survey methods on 295 sites from six different countries: 50 in Brunei, 22 in Philippines, 40 in Taiwan, 24 in Thailand, 18 in Indonesia and 141 in Malaysia. In summary, the data shows that the reefs in Southeast Asia are “in fair condition with 43.20% of live coral (hard coral + soft coral) cover. However the abundance of highly prized food fish (Barramundi Cod, Humphead Wrasse and Bumphead Parrotfish) and several other fish targeted for food were low. Invertebrates targeted for curio trade and food trade were also present in small numbers or completely absent at many survey sites. Overfishing seems to be the main impact to coral reefs in this region.”
The full paper can be downloaded by clicking here.
Following the symposium, Reef Check Hong Kong coordinator Keith Kei trained up members of the Taiwan Environmental Information Association (TEIA) as EcoDivers with the goal of re-energizing the Reef Check Taiwan program.