This study focuses on Tolo Harbour in Hong Kong that experiences limited flushing and low salinity. Development since 1973 has led to increased sewage discharge and a pollution gradient within the harbor, exemplified by nutrient enrichment. In response to the resulting degradation and biodiversity shifts, an action plan was implemented in 1987 but declines in coral continued until all coral was lost from the harbor in 1998. That year, another effort diverted all sewage effluent from the harbor. This study explored the changes in coral reef cover and survivorship over time as human activity, pollution, and treatment changed, offering insight into coral reef resilience and recovery capacity. The results of this study and the 30 years of documented sewage management regimes and coral cover demonstrate that recovery is possible. Coral cover has increased significantly, but remains vulnerable to pollution and disturbance. This study shows that restoration and improved sewage management support coral communities, however prevention is far more effective.
Authors: Wong, K.T., A.P.Y. Chui, E.K.Y. Lam, and P. Ang
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Marine Pollution Bulletin 133: 900-910. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.06.049