Productivity is higher than in other tropical waters and 6 million tons of fish are taken each year from the world’s coral reefs. Most of this stays in protein-poor countries. Langkawi’s community is largely dependent on local fisheries for protein and the next generation needs the Andaman Reef.
Biodiversity is the loudest catch cry in environmental research today. It is a measure of the complexity of an ecosystem and is now thought to be related to the health of the entire planet. Southeast Asian coral reefs have the highest levels of biodiversity of all the world’s marine ecosystems, perhaps the highest biodiversity since the beginning of life on Earth.
But, recent surveys show that 10% of the world’s coral reefs are already dead. It is estimated that another 60% of the world’s reefs are at risk due to destructive, human-related activities. Man’s threat to the health of reefs is particularly strong in Southeast Asia, where an appalling 80% of reefs are endangered. Sadly, Southeast Asian coral reefs are now the world’s most threatened, being impacted by the activities of man.
The global economic value of these tiny coral reefs is staggering, estimated at $30 billion annually. Southeast Asia’s coral reef fisheries alone yield about $2.4 billion annually. According to the WWF, the economic cost over a 25 year period of destroying one kilometre of coral reef is somewhere between $137,000 and $1,200,000. Conversely, the economic benefit of saving one kilometre of reef is the same.