The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

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The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. How Global Warming and Fishing are Threatening its Survival. Global Warming. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

The Mesoamerican Barrier ReefHow Global Warming and Fishing are Threatening its Survival

Global WarmingThe gradual increase in the temperature of the earth's atmosphere, believed to be due to the greenhouse effect, caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants.

- Global warming is a one of the main threats to the survival of the Mesoamerican Barrier ReefCoral BleachingOccurs when the algae the coral relies on for nutrients is separated from the reefThis ultimately leads to the death of the coral

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef has undergone two major coral bleachings:- 1995 10% of the coral colonies died- 1997-97 48% of the coral colonies were damaged and/or dead

Causes of Coral BleachingIncreased exposure to UV radiationHeavy rains flooding the reefExposure of the reef to chemicals or diseasesDirt or sand covering the reef (impeding photosynthesis)Excess ammonia and nitrates as a result of fertilizers and cleaning products entering the reef

With continuous coral bleaching, the reed will have little to no chance of survival

Hurricane MitchThe most powerful hurricane of the 1998 Atlantic Hurricane seasonThe deadliest hurricane since the Great Hurricane of 1780Resulted in massive rainfalls in Belize causing floodingThis flooding consequently flooded the reef

Greenhouse GasesCarbon dioxide is one of the main contributors to the greenhouse gasesCurrent CO in atmosphere is 387 ppmEstimated concentration of CO in atmosphere by 2035 is 450 ppm this would result in a severe mass bleaching of the reef and destroy its ability to grow

Effects of Greenhouse Gases on the ReefGreenhouse gases in atmosphere (carbon dioxide, methane) make the ocean around the reef warmer (greenhouse effect) and more acidicThis alters the ability of the reef to calcify a process that helps the coral grow and strengthen

Effect of Warmer Water TemperaturesWarmer water temperatures result in less effective photosynthesisThis results in an increase of products that poison the zooxanthellae (the algae coral relies on for nutrients)The coral saves itself by releasing the zooxanthellae, but without the zooxanthellae the coral essentially starves to death

Increased UV RadiationHinders the coral and algae from undergoing photosynthesisConsequently less energy available to the overall marine ecosystem

Possible ConsequencesIf global warming continues at its current rate:

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef will stop growing by 2050Numerous ecosystems will be lostIncreased ocean acidity will make it more difficult for the reef to form an outer shell (skeleton)FishingFishing is threatening the Mesoamerican Barrier ReefThe overexploitation of different fishes by recreational and commercial fisheries is resulting in a rapid decline in fish populations

OverfishingOverfishing results in devastating impacts on the reefIt affects:- The reefs ecological balance and biodiversity- Fish size and abundance- Species composition and genotype diversity- As well as the overall value of the coral reef ecosystem

Impacts of Overfishing

The Domino EffectFishing for a particular species not only affects that particular species, but also those directly and indirectly reliant on itEx: the grouper fish The overfishing of grouper can lead to an increase of damselfish, which is a major food supply for the grouper fish. Damselfish help create pockets in corals that are important for coral reef life If the damselfish population isnt controlled by natural predation, the algae which occupy the pockets can take over a reef, eventually killing itEcosystem Overfishing

Protection of the ReefThe Global Environment Facility has developed a project to conserve the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef:

Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS)

This Project Entails...The global objective of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Project is to enhance protection of the ecologically unique and vulnerable marine ecosystems comprising the MBRS, by assisting the littoral states to strengthen and coordinate national policies, regulations and institutional arrangements for the conservation and sustainable use of this global public good. The GEF Project will, therefore, assist Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras to: (i) strengthen existing MPAs and establish new protected areas in transboundary locations; (ii) develop and implement a standardized regional monitoring and environmental information system for the MBRS; (iii) promote measures to reduce non-sustainable patterns of resource use in the MBRS, focusing initially on the fisheries and tourism sectors; (iv) increase local and national capacity for environmental management through education, information sharing and training; and (v) strengthen and coordinate national policies, regulations, and institutional arrangements for marine ecosystem conservation and sustainable use. (MBRS-Project Terminal Evaluation Report IW:LEARN. (n.d.). International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network IW:LEARN. Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://iwlearn.net/iw-projects/Fsp_112799467864/)

To achieve these goals, the project consisted of four components:

1. Marine Protected Areas planning, management, and monitoring of Marine Protected Areas and institutional strengthening.2. Regional Environmental Information System Creation and implementation of distributed Web-based Regional Environmental Information System and the establishment of a Synoptic Monitoring Program.3. Promoting Sustainable Use of the MBRS promotion of sustainable fisheries, management and facilitation of low-impact coastal and marine tourism.4. Public Awareness and Environmental Education Development of an environmental awareness campaign and formal and informal education.In Conclusion to the ProjectThreats to the MBRS will not be addressed without a significant commitment from the international community to assist the four countries to tackle some of these issues. These threats will not be negated by a single project, and continued support will have to be sought from a variety of sources to systematically address these threats. The strong foundation set by this project, however, provides a sound framework for future investments. (MBRS-Project Terminal Evaluation Report IW:LEARN. (n.d.). International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network IW:LEARN. Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://iwlearn.net/iw-projects/Fsp_112799467864/evaluations/project-terminal-evaluation-report/view)

Bibliography Belize Barrier Reef. (n.d.). Caribbean Islands. Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://www.le-caribbean-islands.com/belize-barrier-reef.htmlBelize Barrier Reef - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belize_Barrier_ReefCaribbean/Latin America CRSD Sites | Coral Reef Alliance. (n.d.). Welcome | Coral Reef Alliance. Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://www.coral.org/where_we_work/caribbeanConservation and Sustainable Use of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) IW:LEARN. (n.d.). International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network IW:LEARN. Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://iwlearn.net/iw-projects/Fsp_112799467864Coral bleaching-Key text. (n.d.). Home - Australian Academy of Science . Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://www.science.org.au/nova/076/076key.htmGlobal Warming Threatens Planet. (n.d.). Home | Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW). Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://www.elaw.org/book/export/html/1225Hurricane Mitch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_MitchMBRS-Project Terminal Evaluation Report IW:LEARN. (n.d.). International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network IW:LEARN. Retrieved June 27, 2011, from http://iwlearn.net/iw-projects/Fsp_112799467864/evaluations/project-terminal-evaluation-report/view