Coral Reef NOAA
May 26, 2016  

New Analysis: 75% of Coral Reefs Under Threat

Colorful coral Reef (Credit: Lauretta Burke)
A colorful coral reef. Photo credit: Lauretta Burke

Share |

Seventy-five percent of the world’s coral reefs are currently threatened by local and global pressures, according to a comprehensive analysis released by the World Resources Institute, along with the Nature Conservancy, the WorldFish Center, the International Coral Reef Action Network, Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, and the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Center, and a network of more than 25 partner organizations, including NOAA. For the first time, the analysis includes threats from climate change, including warming seas and rising ocean acidification.

"This report serves as a wake-up for policy-makers, business leaders, ocean managers, and others about the urgent need for greater protection for coral reefs,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “As this report makes clear local and global threats, including climate change, are already having significant impacts on coral reefs— putting the future of these beautiful and valuable ecosystems at risk."

The most immediate and direct threats arise from local sources, which currently threaten more than 60% of coral reefs. Local threats include impacts from fishing, coastal development, and pollution. Left unchecked, the percent of threatened reefs will increase to more than 90% by 2030 and to nearly all reefs by 2050.

"Despite the dire situation for many reefs, there are reasons for hope.” said Lauretta Burke, senior associate at WRI and a lead author of the report. “Reefs are resilient, and by reducing the local pressures on reefs, we can help buy time to find solutions to global threats that can preserve reefs for future generations."

"Reefs at Risk Revisited" was launched globally on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 with events in Washington, D.C.; London, England; Malaysia; Australia; and other locations. Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator was the featured speaker at the D.C. event at the National Press Club. This event also featured presentations by Jonathan Lash, President, WRI; Lauretta Burke, lead author, WRI; and Dr. Nancy Knowlton, Chair of Marine Science, Smithsonian Institution.