Public calls on U.S. government to protect the world's coral reefs, new poll finds

Washington, DC, October 3, 2002 The first nationwide survey on coral reef issues reports that Americans are concerned about the health of coral reefs. A majority (56%) of Americans rate the health of reefs worldwide in the negative. They are nearly unanimous (85%) in their belief that it is important for the U.S. to take a leadership role in protecting coral reefs worldwide and that regulations should be used to ensure best conservation practices.

The survey, conducted by the national research firm Edge Research in collaboration with the Coral Reef Foundation and SeaWeb sampled 1,000 American adults between May 29th and June 3rd, 2002. This comprehensive poll surveyed the public's knowledge and attitudes towards coral reefs and the growing threats to their survival.

The survey results follow on the heels of the recently published The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States, the first national assessment of the health of the nation's coral reefs by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It states that every U.S. reef system is suffering from both human and natural disturbances. U.S. reefs share problems with reefs globally, especially the effects of rapidly growing coastal populations. Over 10.5 million people now live in U.S. coastal areas adjacent to shallow coral reefs.

"Coral reefs are home to over 25 percent of all marine life and are among the world's most fragile and endangered ecosystem," says Vikki Spruill, Executive Director of SeaWeb. "We know that there is strong public support for designating marine protected areas to safeguard them from the increasing threats posed by human and natural activities."

Seventy-eight percent of Americans support designating coral reefs as protected areas, including creating some areas that would prohibit all extractive activities, and 56% favor this concept "strongly." Support for designating coral reefs as marine pro

Contact: Tom Johnson

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