In 2008, the The International Year of the Reef program continued to focus on a global campaign to raise awareness of the values of coral reefs and the threats facing them. In January 2010, the United Nations designated this year as the International Year of Biodiversity. According to this program, this is the year when “commitments and agreements signed in 2001 under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) will result in “the halting loss of biodiversity” on Planet Earth.”
Indications are that 2010 is a very significant year for life on this planet, one in which concerns for the loss of biodiversity, which is the decline and extinction of the species which maintain life, according to this program “move much closer to the centre stage of global awareness and political action.” The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is organizing the International Year of Biodiversity, says on its website “We are acing a serious crisis in biodiversity, the elaborate network of animals, plants and the places where they live on the planet.”
In the International Year of the Reef 2008, decline of coral reefs was lamented worldwide. Despite their importance, nearly two-thirds of Caribbean coral reefs were being threatened by human activity.Reefs were already struggling to survive against overfishing, sewage, diving, and snorkeling among other factors. Now, in the midst of this crisis comes the oil spill caused by the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore rig on April 20.Coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico are being threatened by this new danger which it is predicted can take several years to resolve.Sadly, oil has been gushing underwater for over a month at the rate of over 210.000 gallons a day.
Reefs are extremely important to tourist-related reef recreation as well as local reef recreation. Caribbean coral reefs are said to provide an estimated US $3.1 billion to $4.6 billion per year from fisheries, dive tourism and shoreline protective services.
In 2008,Scientist Dr. Camilo Mora of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada pointed out that the losses from the decline of coral reefs in the Caribbean alone were “endangering a large number of species, from corals to sharks, and jeopardizing 4 billion dollars in services worth of fisheries, tourism and coastal protection.”
What does this oil spill mean for the future of sea life? Bearing in mind that oil spill threatens the already endangered species of birds, coral reefs, fish and other species of sea life, there is an urgent need for this environmental disaster to be addressed in a timely manner, and to find a recovery plan.
There is need for a holistic control of human stress factors like oil spills, as well as all the others previously mentioned. Ensuring proper management of coastal resources is vital for the economic and environmental health of all regions. Industries, environmental groups and government officials in all areas need to set goals to boost environmental education of passengers, cruise operators, and local communities, curb traffic and waste-disposal problems, boost protection of the reefs, and work to more effectively enforce environmental laws and regulations. It is critical that we save our sea life.