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Nov 12, 2010

Mesoamerican Reef 2010 report; Coral reefs in danger

Coral reefs are in danger; that is the weighty message coming out of a reef summit which is ongoing in Belize City. In fact according to the 2010 report card of the Mesoamerican Reef, released today, an alarming percentage of the reef is not in good shape. The summit precedes the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Cancún, Mexico, from twenty-ninth November to tenth December 2010 where the hope is that the global community will reach agreement on global warming. News Fives’ Delahnie Bain reports on the summit.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Belize still holds bragging rights for having the longest living barrier reef in the world. But our reef is in danger. Marine biologists are tackling the most pressing issues in the three day Reef Summit 2010.

Dr. Melanie McField, Director, Healthy Reefs for Healthy People

“We started last night at the Bliss with the launch of this film called Someday is now. It calls to action voices of Belizean people talking about their coastal resources and the need for planning. So that is a campaign that will be launched in January.  Tomorrow’s event is this aerial art event using humans on Sergeant’s Caye to spell out a message to the world. It’s going to be broadcast on the international media and it will be presented and this Conference of Parties.”

Agencies from across the region were represented at a symposium held today to discuss the Mesoamerican Reef, which spans from the northern end of Mexico, along the Caribbean coasts of Belize and Guatemala, to northern Honduras.

melanie mcfield

Dr. Melanie Mcfield

“Today we’re talking about the status of the reef. I’ll be launching the report card shortly. We have presentations from people from around the region talking about a variety of different projects, kind of just giving an update of a lot of the conservation actions that are going on. So we’re thinking national and regional, beginning to look to the global because we’re also looking at some of the impacts of global climate change on the reef. We’re doing many good management measures throughout the region, trying to improve the situation. We recognize the reef is in trouble.  We have done a number of steps that are applaudable—we want to give credit to the countries for doing these things. At the same time we need to make a call to the global community who’s meeting in two weeks in Cancun for the big Conference of Parties Climate Change summit and they need to step up to the plate and come up with a real treaty that will help protect from climate change because the oceans are gonna go quickly, reefs are going to be the first.”

But according to Dr. Melanie McField, the 2008 to 2010 report card on the status of the reef is mostly bad news.

Dr. Melanie McField

“From 2008 to 2010, the changes that we’ve seen are vast majority declines. One of the most stunning things is the amount of reef that’s now in critical condition; it’s about thirty percent whereas the last report card it was about six percent. So that block of the red zone, there’s another forty percent now that was found to be in poor condition so that’s a block of seventy percent that’s in the bad category. That’s really bad news. The good news we have one percent very good, last time we didn’t have any. And we have about the same amount—we have eight percent now in good condition.”

McField says protected areas and legislation to protect rare fish species have helped keep parts of the reef that in good condition. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

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