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Experts Propose Solutions to Worldwide Damage of Coral Reefs
Most of the newspaper-reading public knows that the world's coral reefs are in crisis. A recent AAAS report explains why and proposes several solutions. The report, Global Trade and Consumer Choices: Coral Reefs in Crisis, suggests that global trade is contributing to the ecological devastation, and that consumers would be willing to change the way they purchase products in order to influence practices that have contributed to the destruction of coral reefs, more than 25 percent of which are already dead or severely damaged.
The papers that comprise the report were presented at the AAAS Annual Meeting and Science Innovation Exposition, held in San Francisco in February 2001. The authors address the global trade in coral reef species and coral reef conservation, analyzing the causes and consequences of global trade in coral reef animals, the role of the United States as a major importer, and presented solutions to reduce the negative impacts of trade on coral reefs, while promoting sustainable resource use.
The following were cited as major factors in the destruction of the coral reefs: global warming, over fishing, destructive fishing practices, unsound coastal development, commercial sales of animals and products collected among the reefs -- food fish, live fish and corals for aquaria, curios and knickknacks, jewelry and traditional medicines. In their paper, "Ocean Attitudes 2001: Conservation through Consumer Action," authors Vikki Spruill and Lisa Dropkin write,
"Indeed, there are substantial numbers of people willing to modify their purchasing behaviors to help oceans. For example, many strongly support actions to protect oceans, even if it meant paying more for seafood. Sixty-two per cent of respondents in one survey said they would not eat fish classified by the government as overfished, and 44 per cent would only eat fish caught or farmed in a way that protects oceans."
"Americans are increasingly connecting to conservation through consumerism and there is growing momentum to use consumer markets to drive ocean conservation."
-- Coimbra Sirica