8 Jul 2008

US Pacific coral reef ecosystems at threat

9:09 pm on 8 July 2008

A new report on the health of coral reefs under United States jurisdiction says nearly half of U.S. coral reef ecosystems are considered to be in poor or fair condition.

American Samoa, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Northern Marianas, Guam and Palau were highlighted in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study.

The report says the nation's coral reef ecosystems, particularly those adjacent to populated areas, continue to face threats from coastal development, fishing, sedimentation and recreational use.

The study's found that even the most remote reefs are subject to threats such as marine debris, illegal fishing and climate-related effects of coral bleaching, disease and ocean acidification.

The deputy assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and co-chair of the United States Coral Reef Task Force, Tim Keeney, says the report shows that this is a global issue.

He says while the report indicates reefs in general are healthier in the Pacific than the Atlantic, even remote reefs are subject to threats stemming from climate change, as well as illegal fishing and marine debris.