The Coral Sea is a region off Australia’s North East State of Queensland and covers one million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean. It is home to an extensive array of marine fish and coral reefs including the Great Barrier Reef. In November 1990, the International Maritime Organization officially designated the Great Barrier Reef the first ever Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA). In 2015, this PSSA was extended to include an area of the south-west Coral Sea to acknowledge the vulnerabilities of the complex marine ecosystem habituated in the Coral Sea.
Fishing remains a big threat in the Coral Sea, overfishing is known to deplete species and damage coral habitats. Use of nets and traps often removes more fish that are herbivores; these fish eat algae and balance the ecosystem. Traps set too close to reefs can damage coral reefs which take a long time to recover.
Climate change is having an adverse impact with 2015 and 2016 recorded as the hottest years on record with the 2016 Great Barrier Reef bleaching that caused an average loss of 68% of coral; having a far greater impact than the bleaching’s of the Great Barrier Reef in 1998 and 2002.
Biodiversity has never been more important for a healthy functional ecosystem which is essential to providing humans with natural resources and services we depend on. Having a higher diversity of species provides the marine ecosystem opportunities to adapt to environmental and climate change.
Hence, it is crucial that we develop strategies now to protect the global significance of the Coral Sea.