Threat Reduction

Herbivorous sea urchins mature within supervised saltwater tanks to aid in coral patch algae removal. Photo © Ian Shive
sources of stress

Managing impacts from tourism and coastal development helps to support coral resilience. Photos © S. Wear/TNC

Action at the local scale can play an important role in building reef resilience and supporting the viability of local communities and reef-based industries. Local management interventions can also produce benefits to the broader ecosystem if they are targeted at sites that are important for system resilience, such as important sources of coral larvae or critical fish breeding areas.

The management of local sources of stress to reefs will often require active engagement with reef users and local communities to build understanding, support, and compliance. Including stakeholders in efforts to protect reefs strengthens local stewardship in support of shared conservation goals. ref

Key actions that are important for local management of high-value sites include:

  • Temporary closures — During times of severe stress, such as a bleaching event, managers can help minimize the severity of damage at important reef sites by protecting corals from activities that might exacerbate the effects of environmental pressures.
  • Managing recreational use of reefs — Recreation is an important use of coral reefs, and one that can be managed to ensure sustainability of economic and social benefits, as well as enduring conservation outcomes.
  • Managing risks from invasive species — Invasive species can pose serious risks to coral reef ecosystems and managers should work with relevant partners to prevent, detect and control invasive species.
  • Control of coral predators — Under certain conditions, natural coral predators (such as Crown-of-thorns starfish and Drupella snails) can reach outbreak densities and cause severe damage to reefs. Control of predators can be feasible for small, important reef areas.
  • Sea urchin management — Like coral predators, sea urchins can also cause problems on reefs if populations exceed certain thresholds. Depending on circumstances, managers may wish to reduce urchin densities or enhance them to help restore balance to the ecosystem.
  • Reducing land-based impacts — Appropriate land-use practices at high value sites are critical to ensure that the transport of sediment, nutrients and other pollutants to coral reefs is minimized.
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