Climate change has led to the deterioration of the world’s coral reefs, but the decline of Madagascar’s Grand Recif of Toliara was brought about by old-fashioned trampling. An influx of seaside dwellers and fishermen over the past few years has disrupted the coral reef’s fragile ecosystem, uprooting marine plants and destroying organisms. In just forty years, population growth along the shoreline has caused damage that can only be reversed if the locals are willing to change the way they live and fish.
Off the southwest coast of Madagascar, the Grand Recif of Toliara was one of the most important biodiversity systems in the 1970s in the Indian Ocean region. Boasting over 6,000 thriving species, it was one of the most flourishing reefs in the world. Stretching almost twelve miles along the coast, it was first met with decline due to climate change—a one degree rise in temperature and less rainfall disrupted its homeostasis.
But the problems were worsened when the area inland started having climate related problems. Widespread deforestation pushed locals out of areas, as well as the soil becoming infertile. Coupled with a dryer climate, the former farmers of the area surrounding the reef fled to the sea, seeking a new place to call home and to make a living. Many transitioned into the fishing industry, using everything from sophisticated commercial systems to hands on mosquito nets and rod fishing.
The influx of the fishing industry has quickly damaged the reef. The widespread nets capture sea creatures, disturb grasses and aggravate the ecosystem. Machinery and fishermen’s day to day practices break up the coral, destroying the creatures beneath them.
Experts now fear that the reef system is in serious danger, and are looking to the locals to take the matters into their own hands, but changing their methods of fishing in order to preserve their livelihood of the future.
Via Phys Org