Coral reefs around Taiwan are still under threat, Greenpeace said yesterday, urging the government to act more aggressively on the matter.
Greenpeace last year launched a project to document changes to reefs.
Data compiled over the past six months showed that 60 percent of the coral reefs being monitored in Taiwan are dying due to continuous bleaching, as was observed last summer, project director Chiu Tsung-jung (邱聰榮) said.
Photo courtesy of Greenpeace Taiwan via CNA
Bleaching last year, which was the worst since Taiwan began keeping records in the 1980s, was due to global warming and a lack of typhoons, Chiu said.
The reefs being monitored seem not to have recovered from last year and are covered in algae, which indicates death, he said.
The reefs are in areas where the worst bleaching occurred last year, including Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球) and the Kenting (墾丁) area in Pingtung County, and Taitung County’s Green Island (綠島).
The optimal temperature for coral growth is 20°C to 28°C, while bleaching occurs below 18°C or above 30°C, experts say.
The Greenpeace project found that the temperatures of the water in the monitored areas was 30°C to 31°C in general, Chiu said.
The government must set stricter carbon reduction targets, which will help control ocean temperatures and preserve corals reefs, he said.
Extensive research on Taiwan’s coral reefs will also be required to devise a more effective protection plan, Chiu said.
Fan Tung-yung (樊同雲), a coral reef researcher at the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, said that the central and local governments must take aggressive action to stop the bleaching.
“There should be more marine conservation areas, particularly near Siaoliouciou Island,” Fan said.
Hsu Chia-chuan (許家銓), a diving coach on Green Island who participated in the reef monitoring program, said he was saddened by the condition of Taiwan’s reefs.
“I was in tears when I saw the bleached coral reefs,” Hsu said. “I felt so helpless.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that coral reefs worldwide are likely to decline by 70 to 90 percent if the global average surface temperature increases by 1.5°C above pre-industrial times, and they would all be lost if it rises by 2°C.
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