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coral triangle workshop


Fishing in the Coral Triangle.Image: Terry Done.

Coral reef scientists and policy makers from the world's most prominent coral reef nations met in Townsville in November 2008 to develop action plans to rescue the world's richest centre of marine biodiversity from decline.

Human pressures on the Coral Triangle have raised grave concerns about the future of its fish, corals and other sea life. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for joint action by six governments, scientists, agencies and environmental non-government organisations of the region and this led to the establishment of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI), the largest reef conservation program ever undertaken. Marine scientists from AIMS and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University are assisting the CTI.

The Coral Triangle spans Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands. Spread over 5.7 million km2, the region has the highest diversity of marine life of any area on Earth. It contains three-quarters of the world's known coral species, a third of the world's coral reefs, more than 3,000 species of fish and the world's richest mangrove forests. More than 120 million people depend directly on these resources.

These resources are under threat from a combination of over-fishing (including illegal fishing), coral bleaching and ocean acidification, pollution and sedimentation due to coastal development. Better collaboration between Coral Triangle experts and Australian experts may well be fundamental to ensuring the knowledge base is in place to prevent an environmental crisis to our north.

AIMS scientist Dr Janice Lough was invited to contribute a section on Climate Change and the Coral Triangle to the Coral Triangle Study Report co-ordinated by WWF Australia and the University of Queensland, in preparation for the May 2009 meeting at the World Oceans Conference in Manado, Indonesia.

AIMS CEO Ian Poiner, with AIMS scientists Dan Alongi and Hugh Sweatman and AIMS associate Terry Done attended the Manado conference. Dr Done was a keynote speaker. Dr Sweatman also visited Kota Kinabalu to give a presentation to the Malaysian Government and to WWF and some other NGOs about AIMS' Long-term Monitoring Program and talk about the scope for a local reef monitoring initiative under the CTI capacity building banner. Dr Alongi held a workshop in Timor Leste to discuss CTI and possible collaborations between the Timorese, AIMS and Indonesians.