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Healthy corals fared best against tsunami
16/12/2005 18:09

Healthy coral reefs are more capable to survive and recover from natural disasters such as last year's Indian Ocean tsunami, said the World Conservation Union ( IUCN) while calling for protection and management of world coral reefs.
Throughout the Indian Ocean, healthy coral reefs withstood better the force of the tsunami and may have provided more protection to adjacent coastal areas, according to an IUCN report published on Friday.
On the other hand, coral reefs being overexploited or bleached suffered disproportionately during the tsunami and showed signs of slower recovery, said the 2005 Coral Reef Degradation in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO) Status Report.
"The tsunami aftermath has been less severe, both for the corals and the people, where reefs had been soundly managed,"the IUCN press release to Xinhua quoted one of the report authors as saying.
Even in the El Nino global coral bleaching event in 1998, the better-managed coral reefs proved to survive more and recover faster from the event occurring only once in 1,000 years, which caused up to 90 percent of Indian Ocean corals to die.
For example, the marine protected area of Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka saw less reef damage from the tsunami, while at Bar Reef in Sri Lanka recovery from the bleaching phenomena in 1998 has been swifter than elsewhere.
The latest report showed "a ray of hope that corals will make it through, even in the most degraded areas, and keep on providing the poorest with the means to survive," said Jerker Tamelander, IUCN-CORDIO Marine Coordinator for South Asia.
Reefs provide seafood for one billion people in Asia alone, while reef-based activities, principally fishing and tourism, provide economic livelihoods for millions of others, showed data provided by IUCN.
Degraded coral reefs are more susceptible to future natural disasters exacerbated by climate change, creating a vicious circle of reef destruction and human suffering, said Tamelander.
"These findings outline the importance of well-managed marine protected areas and healthy reefs,...such areas act like a buffer against damage and disease," said Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of IUCN Global Marine Programme.
For long, IUCN, the world largest conversation group, has warned that world coral reefs have continually degraded by over- fishing, coral mining, dynamite fishing and land-based pollution.
Up to half of the world's coral reefs may disappear by 2045 unless urgent measures are taken to protect them against environmental hazards, particularly climate change, according to an earlier IUCN report.


 Xinhua news