Coral reef ecosystems support important commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishery resources in the U.S and its territories. Fishing also plays a central social and cultural role in many island and coastal communities, where it is often a critical source of food and income.
The impacts from unsustainable fishing on coral reef areas can lead to the depletion of key reef species in many locations. Such losses often have a ripple effect, not just on the coral reef ecosystems themselves, but also on the local economies that depend on them. Additionally, certain types of fishing gear can inflict serious physical damage to coral reefs, seagrass beds, and other important marine habitats.
Coral reef fisheries, though often relatively small in scale, may have disproportionately large impacts on the ecosystem if conducted unsustainably. Rapid human population growth, increased demand, use of more efficient fishery technologies, and inadequate management and enforcement have led to the depletion of key reef species and habitat damage in many locations.
Coral reef fish are a significant food source for over billion people worldwide. Many coastal and island communities depend on coral reef fisheries for their economic, social, and culture benefits. But too much of a good thing can be bad for coral reefs.
Many serious coral reef ecosystem stressors originate from land-based sources, most notably toxicants, sediments, and nutrients.
The varied effects of climate change are changing the ocean; these changes dramatically affect coral reef ecosystems.
Last updated: 10/08/21
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