You might have traveled many places around the world or it will be right to say down under the sea for catching a glimps of the reefs, fishes, green sea turtles. This is high time you enjoy the magical glimpses of the marvelous coral pillars. It is a visual treat for the snorkelers and travelers vacationing under the sea to have a very close look at the colorful coral reefs spread for miles. Of late, divers and snorkelers are facing hunks clearly bleached as a result of coral devastation caused due to overfishing or shore runoff.
Cause of damage: From the delicate coral reefs to the marine ecosystem of the South Pacific, all are facing the detrimental effect of different human activities like coastal development, deforestation, unrestricted tourism and climate change.
Ways to combat the damage: Like the environmentalists, many from the tourism industry are also interested in restricting the blows deteriorating the condition of marine life every day. The money involved in the reef based tourism can be instrumental in bailing out the delicate coral walls all around the marine world. The Great Barrier Reef of Australia alone attracts around 1.9 million tourists every day to add around $4.2 to the rising industry of marine tourism. The Natural Conservancy has revealed that the coral reefs of all around the world has an yearly economic value of $9.6 billion.
Of late, the tourism industry has started getting actively involved in the conservation efforts made specially at the areas having the major reefs. The marine management program of Great Barrier is seen as the model of coral coservation. The entire program also includes eco-certification for different tour operators, marked area for marine park, ‘no take’ zones, environmental fees payed by tourists, contribution to the Reef research center, species monitoring, etc.
Coral Reefs at risk: The 700 miles long Mesoamerican Reef in the Caribbean is the second largest coral reef in the world. The main causes behind its damage is pollution, coastal development and runoff. The reefs in the Coral Triangle of Southeast Asia that is stretched across the seas near the countries like, Philippines, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and Indonesia got damaged due to overfishing. The practice of using dynamite and cyanide for catching fish in this region made the situation even worse.
Measures to stop the damage 1: A nonprofit conservationist group called Conservation International started the Mesoamkerican Reef Tourism Initiative in 2004 that was aimed at addressing the threat of mass tourism to the Mesoamerican coral reefs. The organisation has also involved cruise lines, hoteliers, local governments of Belize, Mexico and Honduras to the project. As a major step to save the marine eco-system from further damage the cruse line council has begun an effort to restrict the ships from discrharging waste water into the environmentally sensitive area of the sea.
Hopefully, this effort is going to ensure that the waste water from cruises is drained at least 4 miles away from the sensitive marine ecosystem of the Mesoamerican Reef. This process is likely to lower down the chances of marine life of the region getting damaged by the poisonous cruise waste.
The cruise industry has a special interest in saving the marine eco-system from damage. All the cruise lines disgorge a huge number of passengers at the coastal area every day. According to the estimates of Conservation International, the ship passengers make around 2,000 scuba dives in the region every single day. So, the local government of Cozumel ( the area where the ships disgorge) and the dive and water sports association along with the cruise companies are instrumental in saving this coral reef region from further damage.
Measures to stop the damage 2: The measures for freeing the region from unwanted invasion includes creating a dedicated area for snorkeling in Cozumel that visitors limit their water activities to a part of the region. Park management fees, charged for the water activities, is used for protection and proper management of this marine region. The Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative also have plans to implement effective business methods to conserve energy and water, reduce chemical or other forms of solid waste from the hotels in the coastal region of Belize and Riviera Maya.
The efforts of the conservation groups are aimed at maintaining a healthy growth of the coral reefs on the sea bed. Tourism in the region with high growth of coral reefs can be utilized one way or the other for saving the existing coral reefs.