Magazine article New Internationalist

'Bright Spots' Show Some Reefs Are Thriving

Magazine article New Internationalist

'Bright Spots' Show Some Reefs Are Thriving

Article excerpt

Coral reefs around the world are critically endangered, facing human-made problems of overfishing, coral bleaching caused by climate change, and pollution. But scientists have discovered sites where local communities are defying expectations of global reef degradation.

Researchers have found these 15 'bright spots' - reefs with many more fish than expected, thriving under pressure - after conducting over 6,000 reef surveys in 46 countries.

The most surprising element is the human factor: these bright spots are not all pristine, remote areas with low fishing pressure. Instead, they include places where human populations are highly dependent on the sea.

The study found that these places - typically found in Pacific Ocean nations such as the Solomon Islands, some parts of Indonesia, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea - were characterized by high involvement of communities in conservation efforts, local ownership rights and strong traditional management practices.

'Conservation and management are fundamentally about people,' says study co-author Christina Hicks of Lancaster and Stanford Universities, two of 34 institutions involved in the research. 'So when management is designed by the people who ultimately have to alter their behaviour, it is more likely to be seen as fair - and to succeed. …

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