Asia-Pacific nations to protect reefs
MANADO, Indonesia - Six Asia-Pacific countries agreed yesterday on a wide-ranging plan to protect one of the world's largest networks of coral reefs, promising to reduce pollution, eliminate overfishing, and improve the livelihoods of impoverished coastal communities.
The agreement at the World Oceans Conference creates a voluntary management plan for an area defined as the Coral Triangle, which spans Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and East Timor. It accounts for a third of the world's coral reefs and 35 percent of coral reef fish species.
Several governments committed money to the plan during the two-day meeting, including the United States, which pledged $40 million over five years.
The agreement, known as the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security, follows a symbolic memorandum signed earlier in the meeting by government officials from 80 countries. It calls for improved efforts to protect oceans from overdevelopment and illegal fishing.
Much of the discussion has focused on the vital role seas play in absorbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists, activists, and government officials warned that climate change could wipe out entire ecosystems and destroy the livelihoods and homes of up to 100 million people this century in Southeast Asia.