Hundreds of millions of people and industries worth billions of dollars depend on healthy shallow water reef ecosystems (UN Environment, 2018). Yet, anthropogenic stressors, including climate change and pollution, are threatening these fragile ecosystems. As a result, we are now seeing unprecedented levels of decline in reef health and coral cover across the globe.
Plastic, which makes up a sizable proportion of marine pollution, can now be found in all the world’s oceans, but it is thought to be in highest concentration in coastal areas and reef environments where the vast majority of this litter originates from land-based sources. Marine plastic litter pollution is already affecting more than 800 marine and coastal species through ingestion, entanglement and habitat change.
With the additional impacts of climate change on coral reef ecosystems, the threat of plastics must be taken seriously. However, there remains a significant lack of knowledge on the true impacts of plastics on the reef environment.
This research identifies a number of knowledge gaps that are necessary to address in order to strengthen the scientific evidence base for action on marine plastics that impact coral reefs, and towards achievement of targets set by the global community.Download the report
- Title: Plastics and shallow water coral reefs: synthesis of the science for policy-makers
- Date: 19 Aug 2019