WCS helps protect 90% of the world's coral species.
Across the Caribbean, Western Indian Ocean, and Indo-Pacific, our scientists conduct scientific monitoring at over 900 coral sites.
Coral reefs are some the oldest and most diverse ecosystems on earth, hosting an incredible array of fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals as well as some of the most important primary producers on the planet. They also have substantial economic and cultural value.
Yet today, they're in danger due to climate change, destructive fishing practices, and ocean acidification, among other things. All told, over 20 percent of the world's coral reefs have disappeared in the past 30 years.
WCS is employing a number of tactics to help, including:
Driving a global collaboration to strengthen coral reef fisheries management and evaluate the impact of conservation investments around the world.
Conducting research on a global scale to understand the variety of predicted social and ecological impacts of climate change on coral reefs, including the ability of people to adapt to these impacts.
Working in partnership with local communities and a range of other partners to increase sustainable coral reef fisheries by implementing marine protected areas and alternative fisheries managements.
The International Year of the Reef
The International Coral Reef Initiative declared 2018 as the International Year of the Reef (IYOR). The goal of IYOR is to strengthen awareness globally about the importance of coral reefs to our planet and our society, and the imminent threats facing coral reefs. IYOR also seeks to promote partnerships among governments, the private sector, academia, and civil society to better protect and conserve coral reefs for the future. WCS is registered as a participant. As discussed here, our global marine conservation efforts over 25 countries cover nearly 90 percent of the coral diversity in the world.
Along the coast of Kenya, WCS has helped 13 local communities manage their fisheries by reviving traditional fishing closures called “tengefu" within fishing grounds over which local communities have legitimate, hereditary claims. Under the rules of the tengefu, approximately 10% of the community's coastal waters are off-limits for fishing. This practice allows fish populations to recover. WCS has helped the communities monitor their fish populations, and their income from fishing. Results clearly show that implementation of tengefu fishing closures increase fish populations, improves the results of fishing, and boosts fishers' incomes.
A new study published in Conservation Letters identifies reefs globally that have the potential to survive the growing threat of climate change and to help revive degraded marine ecosystems if they are protected from other threats.
A massive study of nearly 1800 tropical coral reefs around the world has found that marine reserves near heavily populated areas fail to protect many endangered species - but are a vast improvement over having no protection.