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U.S. pledges $40M toward coral reef conservation.

U.S. pledges $40M toward coral reef conservation

U.S. pledges $40M toward coral reef conservation
October 23, 2008

The U.S. government has pledged almost $40 million to protect biologically-rich coral reefs in Southeast Asia, according to the U.S. embassy in the Philippines.

The U.S. will contribute $39.45 million to the Coral Triangle Initiative, an effort that seeks to protect and promote sustainable fisheries in East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands.

The Coral Triangle, a six million square kilometer (2.3 million square mile) expanse of ocean and coastline, is home to 30 percent of the world’s coral reefs, 3,000 species of fish, and three-quarters of the planet’s reef-building coral species, according to WWF. The region’s bounty supports artisanal fisheries and tourism, but is increasingly at risk from unsustainable fishing practices, pollution, and reef degradation. Climate change could further threaten these marine ecosystems by increasing the incidence of coral bleaching, while rising CO2 emissions are leading to ocean acidification, making it more difficult for many marine organisms to build protective shells and skeletons.

Great Barrier Reef in Australia

The U.S. has committed to contributing tens of millions of dollars per year to reef conservation activities via a re-authorization of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act.

Coral reefs — often termed the rainforests of the sea — are among the world’s most biodiverse marine ecosystems. Beyond supporting traditional livelihoods and tourism, reefs buffer coastlines from erosion and storm surge.

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