Challenges Facing Coral Ecosystems in the Philippines
Coral reefs have endured for many millennia and appear to be hardy at first glance. In fact, corals are extremely fragile, are among the most endangered ecosystems in the world, and easily affected by slight changes in their environment. Many of the world’s coral reefs are experiencing threats not just from natural events but also, more significantly, as a direct result of human activities. Unless drastic measures are taken, more than half of them will disappear in the next 15 years. The coral reefs of the Philippines are a prime example of an endangered marine ecosystem.
As ocean temperatures rise, the effect is seen in massive die-offs of coral reefs all over the world. The result is a visible bleaching of the existing coral, the death of polyps and the disappearance of marine species in the area. However, the most significant challenges in coral system conservation are destructive human activities.
Over-zealous and destructive fishing practices are threatening both the diversity and abundance of fish populations that live in the reefs. Some of these practices are over-fishing, cyanide poisoning, and the use of dynamite, which permanently damage the reefs.
Deforestation, increased agriculture, urbanization and mangrove destruction also cause damage indirectly as harmful sediment is washed from the soil and into the sea. The release of household and industrial wastes directly into the sea causes untold destruction due to chemical poisoning of the reefs.