Haiti’s coral reef and overfishing

The New York Times had an interesting article yesterday about a small american organisation, Reef Check, who has started a programme to raise awareness about the dreadful condition of Haiti’s coral reefs.

“Environmental degradation is rife in Haiti — deforestation, erosion, pollution — and for the most part it is hard to miss. But for decades the country’s marine environment has suffered unseen. Its extensive coral reef system, an attraction to foreign scuba divers in the 1970s and ’80s, has largely died off — partly from sedimentation and climate change, but mostly from overfishing. (…) “It’s probably the worst overfishing I’ve seen anywhere in the world,” said Gregor Hodgson, the director of Reef Check, a nonprofit organization in California that monitors reef health around the globe. (…) He estimates that about 85 percent of the coral reef has died. (…)  On a recent dive near La Gonâve Island, Mr. Hodgson floated through a wasteland of intact, dead coral, overgrown with algae and sponges and nearly devoid of fish.

Haiti has the second-longest coastline of all the Caribbean countries, yet it is the only one that has not established marine protected areas where fishing is restricted or off-limits, according to the United Nations Environment Program. So Reef Check decided to survey the reefs and propose that the Haitian government create marine parks where fish can feed, grow and reproduce.

“It’s an unusual situation to come into a country where there are no marine ecologists with respect to coral reefs and no marine biology programs in universities,” Mr. Hodgson said. “We’re starting from square one.”

Read the rest of the article on the New York Times website

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