Threats to coral reefs


Image of bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.

Coral reefs face many pressures, some arising naturally in the environment and some the result of human activities. Managing these threats requires major scientific contributions supported by world class scientific research infrastructure, inter-agency collaboration and global engagement.

Threats to Australia's coral reefs fall into three categories:

  • natural stresses that they have coped with for millions of years;
  • direct human pressures, including sediment and nutrient pollutionfrom the land, over-exploitations and damaging fishing practices, engineering and modification of shorelines;
  • global climate change.

Research at AIMS focuses on the latter, now thought to be the biggest threat of all, with effects rapidly increasing in frequency and severity. Through studying the manifestations of global climate change in coral reefs, such as increased coral bleaching and coral disease, it has become clear that many threats are closely linked and exacerbate each other.

AIMS endeavours to provide coral reef managers and policy makers with accurate and timely information regarding threats to coral reefs so that they can design their responses accordingly.