Our seas and oceans are an integral part of our history, economy and way of life. Oceans supply nearly half of the oxygen we breathe, absorb over a quarter of the carbon dioxide we produce, play a vital role in the water cycle and climate system, and are critical for biodiversity.
And within this, coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth – supporting a vast array of marine life, protecting coastlines from storms and forming the backbone of local economies around the world.
But this valuable resource is under direct and sustained pressure from the impacts of human activity and ocean acidification. That’s why the UK’s 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to champion and support their conservation and biodiversity in UK and Overseas Territories’ around the world.
The UK welcomes the fact 2018 has been made the International Year of the Reef by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), recognised by the UK as the key international body for the conservation of coral and related habitats. We will increase engagement with ICRI and work with OTs to encourage the adoption of best sustainable management practice of coral reefs and their ecosystems. We want to provide sustainability for fisheries and ensure food security while upholding social and cultural wellbeing and protecting this precious resource for future generations.