by fahry untuk coral kita
MANADO, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, May 12, 2009 (ENS)
Thousands of delegates from 72 countries have gathered in Manado for a conference on coastal and marine resources that will conclude Friday with a plan of action to safeguard the largest marine reserve in history, the Coral Triangle Initiative.
From the Philippines in the north to Indonesia in the south, the Coral Triangle supports the world's greatest density of marine life, more than 600 species of reef-building corals and the world's largest population of commercially important tuna species, supplying 50 percent of global tuna production.
This ocean expanse covers an area of 2.3 million square miles (5.7 million km2). It is inhabited by more than 3,000 species of reef fish. Over 150 million people live within the Coral Triangle, of which an estimated 2.25 million fishers are dependant on marine resources for their livelihoods.
Limestone reefs, sea grass meadows and coastal mangrove forests attract sea turtles and humpback whales to feed, breed and rest.
To protect this vulnerable area from the impacts of global warming, foreign affairs ministers from the six countries bordering the Coral Triangle - Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste - are in Manado for the first coral summit, with sessions all this week.
On Friday, heads of state from the six countries will meet for the first Leaders Summit of the Coral Triangle Initiative.
"Both the World Ocean Conference and the Coral Triangle Initiative are helping the region to collectively address critical threats to marine and coastal resources posed by climate change, unsustainable fishing methods and land-based pollution," said Asian Development Bank Vice-President Lawrence Greenwood. "ADB strongly supports these efforts."
Greenwood will participate in the summit and will co-chair, with Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi, a CTI Partnership Dialogue on Friday, with ministers and senior officials from the six countries and other organizations supporting the Coral Triangle Initiative.
Other founding Coral Triangle Initiative partners include the Global Environment Facility, a funding organization; the governments of Australia and the United States, and three international NGOs – Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and WWF.
Mobilization of financial resources to support the Coral Triangle Initiative has so far generated commitments or pledges of around US$350 million. The GEF has committed up to $63 million in grants coordinated through the Asian Development Bank, and the U.S. government a further $40 million. ADB and other development partners are expected to contribute new funding close to $300 million.
The Coral Triangle Initiative was first proposed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Australia in 2007 before being endorsed at the United Nations climate change conference in Bali in 2007.
On Friday, the six heads of state are expected to adopt a regional plan of action that will serve as a blueprint for their cooperation on sustainable management of coastal and marine resources.
The six countries already have agreed to set up a mechanism to combat coral bleaching and establish a Coral Bleaching Alert Network supported by satellite surveillance by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"The Coral Triangle Initiative is one of the most important marine conservation measures ever undertaken anywhere in the world and the first to span several countries," said Professor Terry Hughes, director of Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, who is at the Coral Triangle meeting today in Manado.
"It is as much about nation building and food security as it is about reef conservation," he said.
Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi officially opened the World Ocean Conference on Monday, saying there are two things that both developed and developing countries can do to arrest climate change - reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and conserve biodiverse areas.
The Manado Ocean Declaration expected at the end of the World Ocean Conference will be a political commitment among nations to bring protection of oceans into international conventions, said former Indonesian environmental affairs minister Emil Salim.
Marine issues should be included on the agency at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December, he said.
"It's a political commitment among nations that oceans must be included in international conventions on climate change," said Salim on Monday.
Experts have warned that the world's coral reefs may be depleted by 2050 if no immediate action is taken to protect them.
Threats to the Coral Triangle include outbreaks of the notorious crown of thorns starfish, according to 2007 surveys by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
The starfish - a predator that feeds on corals by spreading its stomach over them and using digestive enzymes to liquefy tissue - were discovered in large numbers by the researchers in reefs in Halmahera, Indonesia, at the heart of the Coral Triangle.
Dr. Andrew Baird of the ARC Centre and James Cook University, said in early 2008, "We witnessed a number of active outbreaks of this coral predator. There was little to suggest that the reefs have been much affected by climate change as yet: the threats appear far more localized."
There may still be time to save the reefs. At the World Ocean Conference, an international team of scientists has proposed a set of basic rules to help save imperiled coral reefs from destruction.
"The catastrophic decline in the world's coral reefs demands urgent management responses on two fronts," say the researchers from the ARC Centre, The Australian Museum, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, James Cook, Perpignan and the United Nations Universities and The Nature Conservancy.
The key to saving threatened coral ecosystems is to maintain connective links between reefs allowing larvae to flow between them and re-stock depleted areas, advises the team led by Pew Fellow Dr. Laurence McCook of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
"Ecological connectivity is critically important to the resilience of coral reefs and other ecosystems to which they are linked," says Dr. McCook. "The ability of reefs to recover after disturbances or resist new stresses depends critically on the supply of larvae available to reseed populations of key organisms, such as fish and corals. For reefs to survive and prosper they must in turn be linked with other healthy reefs."
The researchers propose rules of thumb for keeping coral ecosystems viable, based on the results of research carried out in the Bohol Sea in the Philippines, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea.
They would allow margins of error in extent and nature of protection, as insurance against unforeseen threats, spread risks among areas, and allow for reef species to spread over distances of 20 to 30 kilometers.
The scientists advise managers to protect whole reefs where possible, place buffer zones around core areas and use a range of conservation approaches, including marine protected areas.
They say the aim should be to create networks of protected areas that:
protect all the main types of reef creatures, processes and connections, known and unknown achieve sufficient protection for each type of reef habitat type, and for the whole region achieve maximum protection for all reef processes contain several examples of particular reef types to spread the risk
The rules are designed to operate in a range of situations, ever where detailed scientific knowledge of local coral reefs and their species is sparse, the scientists say in a review article in the current issue of the journal "Coral Reefs."
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