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 was 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 sought to promote partnerships among governments, the private sector, academia, and civil society to better protect and conserve coral reefs for the future. WCS was an active participant, producing IYOR materials for distribution, generating significant press, and taking part in events throughout the year in support. These included a concerted PR push around World Ocean Day, collaboration on Reef Week in Belize, and hosting the "Voices of Coral Reefs" session as part of Sustainable Oceans Day: Ocean Voices.
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 recent expedition to Fiji’s largest two community protected areas, Namena Marine Reserve (88 km2) and Vatu-i-Ra Conservation Park (110.5 km2), shows that they are making an incredible recovery from the impact of a tropical cyclone in 2016.
A team of scientists have discovered that a large area in the Indo-Pacific known as the “Coral Triangle” is surprisingly resistant to thermal stress from climate change, making it a sanctuary for corals amid the ongoing climate crisis.