Status of Coral Reefs in the Red Sea-Gulf of Aden
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The status of coral reefs bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden is generally good, with live hard coral cover averaging 20-50%. There are predominantly fringing reefs bordering the coasts of Djibouti, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen. Atolls and pinnacle reefs occur mainly in the Central and Southern Red Sea. However, technical reports, personal observations and comparative data show recent decreases in live coral cover. Fish populations are also declining and there have been several small outbreaks of the crownof- thorns starfish (COTS), some local bleaching events and an increase in bioeroding organisms such as the urchin Diadema setosum and the coral eating gastropods Drupella and Coralliophila. Threats to coral reefs differ within the region, and are continuously increasing with the increasing rate of coastal development. The major threats are land filling, dredging, sedimentation, sewage discharge and effluents from desalination plants. In major tourism areas, there is physical damage by tourists and boat anchors. Fishing pressure is constantly increasing throughout the region to satisfy demands of growing and more affluent populations. Most countries have legislation for reef conservation and additional national laws and multinational agreements have been adopted by the countries with assistance of the Regional Organisation for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA). However, the implementation of these laws is difficult and completely lacking in remote areas. There is a need for enforcement of national and international laws, development of public awareness programs and the adoption of sustainable management strategies to reverse the current trend in deterioration of the environment.
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