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Unsustainable Fishing Practices: Impact On Coral Reefs

1842 words - 8 pages

Overfishing
Coral reefs depend on the niches of some species of fish which in turn, help coral reefs flourish and grow. The decline of three species of fish: parrotfish, angelfish and surgeon fish; as a result of bycatch fatalities largely contributes to the decline of coral reefs. These species of fish are herbivores, which feed on algae. Without parrotfish, angelfish and surgeon fish, the exponential growth of algae takes over the reef and smothers it. The gradual loss of a coral reef environment is further exacerbated when excess algae growth leads to increased levels of disease and the secretion of excess nutrients (Hughes, 2003). Besides algae growth, some species of sponge growing on ...view middle of the document...

These biodiversity hot-spots provide a greater number of feeding opportunities, a place to hide from predators, fish spawning, as well as a nursery for young fish (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2008). For example, juvenile red snapper fish use coral reefs as a place to grow and nurture (Murphy, 2012).
Destructive fishing methods and overfishing accelerate the death of coral reefs and will ultimately exploit the ocean's fish stock until all resources are gone. Cyanide fishing damages coral polyps, which make up a coral reef. Blast fishing physically destroys coral reefs into rubble. Overfishing removes too many fish from an ecosystem, negatively altering the ecological food chain. Due to the loss of a herbivorous keystone species, coral reefs die and eventually, the food web will collapse. Humans overfishing and destructive fishing methods are turning vibrant, productive ecosystems into desolate ocean floor.
Human Activity - Its Impact on the Environment
Coral reefs offer a multitude of environmental services, which include: coastal protection, a breeding ground for the ocean's fish and biological support for aquatic plants (Moberd & Folke, 1999). The removal of reefs due to overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices will have negative effects on the environment. Through the ecosystem services that coral reefs provide, one can see that coral reefs have an intrinsic and anthropocentric value, which serves as an incentive to safeguard these biodiversity hot-spots.
Protection from Coastal Erosion
Similar to mangrove forests, coral reefs act as a buffer against powerful waves, which would otherwise erode the land (Moberg & Folke, 1999). Without coral reefs, coastal regions are becoming highly vulnerable to coastal erosion and the effects of natural disasters. A healthy coral reef is able to withstand beatings from powerful waves, while protecting coastal land, preventing property damage and infrastructure damage (Rudnicki, n.d.). This value comes from the avoidance of costly property repairs, construction of coastal protection, insurance costs and the prevention of human displacement (Moberg and Folke, 1999). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, estimates over half a billion of people worldwide live within 100 kilometres of a coral reef and benefit from its protection (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, 2014). In the Maldives, 1km of pier was built, costing $1.2 million USD in an effort to protect the coast from erosion (Moberg & Folke, 1999). A healthy reef will be able to obtain more nutrients, brought on by the pounding of waves (Stanford University, 2012). Consequently, a healthy coral reef will buffer waves as well as absorb nutrients which make it more productive (Stanford University, 2012). The greater the productivity of an ecosystem, the greater the amount of biodiversity it is able to support and nutrient cycling. Thus, a healthy coral reef creates a positive feedback loop, creating an...

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