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What Is Coral Conservation?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Coral conservation is a type of environmental conservation activity that focuses on preserving the world's coral reefs. Coral reefs are believed to offer a home to as much as one-quarter of the world's marine animals, and are among the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Climate change, pollution, increasing populations along the world's coasts, and over-fishing are believed to be contributing to the deterioration of the world's coral reef ecosystems. Coral conservation seeks to protect the world's coral reefs by changing fishing and tourist practices, as well as helping to introduce sustainable living practices that can help reduce damage to coral ecosystems. If the world's coral reefs are allowed to deteriorate and die, marine bio-diversity will suffer, as will local economies that rely on coral reef fish for food and tourism for trade.

Scientists believe that coral reefs are some of the world's most sensitive ecosystems. As a result, they are generally the first to suffer the effects of climate change and pollution. Experts believe damage to coral reefs done by pollution and climate change could be indicative of more severe environmental consequences in the future.

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The maintenance of healthy coral ecosystems is also considered important for the communities that rely on these ecosystems for tourism trade and food. Many coastal communities in Indonesia and Central America, as well as other locations, rely on healthy coral reefs to provide the fish that is central to the native diet. Tourists often flock to these areas to view the coral reefs and the fish that live there. Many species of marine fish rely on being able to congregate at coral reefs during certain times of the year, even if they do not live there year-round.

The objectives of coral conservation include teaching local communities to care for their coral ecosystems, and helping to revitalize coral by re-introducing various species to degraded areas of coral. Fishing can be conducted in a way that does not damage the coral. Trawling the sea floor is generally not advised, and limits on how many fish can be caught are often imposed. Coral conservation also generally requires minimizing pollution from coastal communities, and regulating tourism so that heavy tourist traffic does not degrade the quality of coral ecosystems. Since rising sea levels and temperatures can affect coral ecosystems, scientists typically advise overall, worldwide energy conservation that can help to slow climate change.

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