Conserving Melanesia’s coral reef heritage in the face of climate change

Foale, Simon J. (2008) Conserving Melanesia’s coral reef heritage in the face of climate change. Historic Environment, 21 (1). pp. 30-36.

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Abstract

In this article I use the lens of natural heritage to examine the nexus between Western and Melanesian ways of conceptualising and valuing coral reefs. I discuss the impacts of various pressures, including rising sea temperatures, on the ecological functioning of coral reefs and their ability to deliver ecosystem services, primarily fisheries, to the people who own and depend on them. I argue that while demand from Chinese markets has led to over-harvesting of a number of artisanal fisheries, the impact of subsistence fishing is still limited by relatively low human population densities. Escalating pressure on sharks (for their fins) looks likely to seriously damage shark populations in the near future. Despite these threats the ecological resilience of most Melanesian reefs, with localised exceptions, does not appear to be seriously threatened at present. However projected increases in the severity and frequency of coral bleaching, along with increasing subsistence and artisanal fishing pressures are likely to lead to significant and possibly irreversible degradation of reefs in the region before long, unless more culturally enlightened approaches to marine resource management and economic development are embraced by aid donors and non-government organisations.

Item ID: 6379
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0726-6715
Keywords: resource management; fishery management; Melanesia; climate change; economic development
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2010 01:47
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160101 Anthropology of Development @ 40%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1603 Demography > 160305 Population Trends and Policies @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 50%
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