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Natural Park of the Coral Sea
The pristine areas are a haven for hump-back whales, sea birds and turtles and contain an estimated 1,700 species of fish and 473 different types of coral, according to non-profit organization Pew Charitable Trusts.
The reefs will now be harder to access for the roughly 600,000 tourists who visit New Caledonia each year, generating one of its main income streams.
Leleuvia Resort, Fiji
The ban was a good idea but the Pacific region had many other environmental problems on its plate, according to Emma Newland, a science officer with the region’s scientific agency, the Pacific Community (SPC). “I guess for us the tourists numbers aren’t so big but we have more pressing issues, I think, more around agricultural runoff, deforestation and human and animal waste streams that are ultimately affecting our coral reefs.”
In half the sites surveyed, live corals populated less than one percent of a given reef. At 80 percent of the Samoan sites, live corals were below 10 percent. The scientists estimate that these reefs may have previously had live coverage between 60 and 80 percent, and graveyards of recently deceased coral suggest that much of the die-off happened in the recent past.
Additionally, fish from two species found in the reefs were 10 percent smaller than individuals of the same species around nearby islands, and they were found in schools of smaller numbers.