Poverty contributes to coral reef decline

by Owen James

A new study has found, perhaps not surprisingly, that poverty is one of the biggest contributors to the degradation of coral reefs, especially over-fishing.

However, it’s not simply a case of the poorest communities over-fishing the most, according to coverage of the report on CNN:

People in moderately developed places that have few amenities such as road, schools and electricity often tend to depend less on fishing, but they also have more access to engine-powered boats, spear guns, and other technologies that can rapidly deplete some fish species, said Joshua Cinner of James Cook University in Australia in the report.

Those locations also tended to have fewer traditional village rules to limit fishing and national governments that are too weak to effectively enforce fishery regulations.

“In short, they have the technology to plunder their reefs, but not the institutions to protect them or the levels of development that allow for sufficient alternatives to fishing,” Cinner said.

The report, by James Cook University in Australia, said the sustainability of coral reefs will depend on developing countries avoiding the poverty trap – a situation when communities are forced to destroy the resources they rely on due to a lack of alternatives.

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