The cost of cashing in from coral
The need for this resource
Coral is a very useful and industrious resource that is found deep at the ocean floor. Coral is extracted from the ocean by process of mining and has several purposes. Coral is primarily used in the construction industry as building material, also known as coral rag and it provides a suitable subsitute for limestone blocks. (Coral Reef Alliance, 2013). Coral is also crafted into jewellry and is found in most medicines and pharmaceuticals. (Coral Reef Conservation Program, 2011). There are numerous implications of coral and it provides many benefits in our everyday activities. In addition to these artificial uses, coral naturally provides a buffer zone that protects coastal shorelines from erosion as well as providing shelter to a variety of different aquatic species. Coral attracts large schools of fish which inhabit these reefs and it is estimated that coral provides a $5.7 billion boost to ocean fisheries. (Marine Bio, 2013).
A very cheap and inexpensive building material. Coral rag requires little refining and makes for an easy subsitute for lime block. It is widely used for construction in developing countries.
One of coral's many uses; it is considered a luxury due to its appearance and exoticness.
One of coral's more reknown uses is in prescription drugs. It is estimated that over 50% of medications available contain some amount of coral.
Sounds of the Ocean - Depths of the Ocean - Sample by Brainwave-Sync
Impacts of coral mining
- extraction of coral destabilizes and decays coral reef foundations (Columbia University, 2013)
- destabilization of coral reefs leads to loss in dependant plant life and forces inhabiting fish and other aquatic animals to relocate elsewhere
- decrease in coral leads to an increase in algae, as coral naturally feeds off of algae (Columbia Unviersity, 2013)
- removal of coral clusters leads to shoreline erosion (Coral Reef Alliance, 2013)
- lack of coral buffer zone causes stronger undercurrents and bigger tidal waves (dangerous beach conditions for swimmers)
- removal of coral threatens tourism/scuba diving industries that depend on the beauty of the coral reefs (Coral Reef Alliance, 2013)
- removal of coral will attract less fish to inhabit areas closer to shorelines and will reduce fisheries' average catches
- local fishermen who rely on coral reefs to attract fish will have to travel further out in the ocean to get their primary source of food/income
Currently, there are several iniatives underway to protect coral from the threats of mining and extraction. One of the most benefitial of these initiatives is the establishment of Marine Protected Areas. Marine Protected Areas are internationally recognized sections of coral reef that cannot be touched. (Marine Bio, 2013). This ensures retainment and reproduction of aquatic species that comprise and depend on the coral reefs and also allows for posible human restoration to any damaged marine ecosystems. Another sustaiable initiative currently in effect is the Marine Aquarium Council. This council is responsible for enforcing practicle and environmentally-safe fishing/mining practises among fisheries and large companies. (Marine Bio, 2013). This ensures the systemic removal of certain species from certain locations at an acceptable rate. it allows coral reefs to keep up with the rate of removal and to adapt to gradual changes as supposed to suffering from rapid deterioration. In addition to these initiatives, scientists and private groups such as the Coral Restoration Foundation have committed themselves to the restoration of various coral reefs in danger of extinction. (Columbia University, 2013). ]
While all these movements are benefitial to the continued existance of coral, there is more work that can be done to improve the quality and biodiversity of our coral reefs. Good future developments that could be made would be the introduction of internationally agreed-upon fishing and mining polices that would limit both the equipment used and location of extraction sites. By committing fisheries to using lighter nets and mining companies to extracting coral further from shore, less coral reefs would be damaged in return and less shoreline would be eroded. To further the sustainability of coral, awareness needs to spread to shift society's view towards the price of fashion. Coral jewellry may look nice but it needs to be recognized that it is not a necessity and that there is no reason to destroy ecologically significant resources in order to craft expensive accessories. Instead, alternative fashion trends such as recycable clothing/jewellry should be brought to the forefront of pop culture in order to protect endangeried species of coral from being extracted.
It is important that we continue to implement these sustainable practises in order to ensure a thriving future for our precious coral reefs. Coral reefs contain some of the world's richest selection of biodiversity and some of the world's strongest antioxidants. There are many benefits that we derive from coral and it would be a shame to see the destruction of such ecological beauty.