Fijian Prime Minister Warns We May Be The Last Generation To See The Wonder of a Coral Reef
Speaking at the opening of a major conference to launch the International Year of the Reef, the Fijian PM Frank Bainimarama told the delegates that the world is losing the battle to save coral reefs.
He told the opening ceremony of the conference in Savusavu in Fiji that: 'On present indications, we are losing the battle. It is a shocking fact that our generation could be among the last to witness the beauty of our reefs and benefit from their bounty,'
Coral reefs cover less than 0.1 per cent of the seabed but support about 25 per cent of global marine life.
Man-made factors including rising water temperatures caused by climate change, ocean acidification, and destructive fishing practices are causing the destruction of reefs at an alarming rate.
Between 2015 and 2017, a global bleaching event affected all but three of the 29 coral reefs listed by Unesco as world heritage sites. The bleaching event that ended in 2017 is reported to have killed as much as half the coral in Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
The first Year of the Reef was declared in 1997, another in 2008 and this year marks the third. Many conservations fear that 2018 marks our last chance to save coral reefs. Erik Solheim, head of the UN Environment Programme, told the conference that it is 'make or break' time. 'We see globally a very, very, steep decline in the corals. A lot of bleaching incidents, a lot of dying [of reefs] - and we need to change.'
He added: 'Losing the reefs would be a shame morally for humans. We would be the one generation destroying some of the most beautiful, most important ecosystems we have.'