St. Martin is the only coral island of Bangladesh which is increasingly coming under threat due to uncontrolled tourism, habitat change, invasive species, plastic buildup in the oceans, rise in temperature, pollution and climate change that is affecting the coral reefs globally from Oceania to the shores of Americas.
What is coral aquaculture and what is its economic and environmental significance?
Coral aquaculture also known as the rainforests of the seas, refers to the cultivation of corals for commercial purpose such as tourism and recreation and coral reef restoration. Coral based tourism-based economies rely upon billions of dollars from tourists via hotels, restaurants, diving trips, recreational fishing trips and local businesses around the coral reef systems.
Coral reefs are a US$350 billion a year industry, occupying just one percent of the ocean floor and supporting millions of plants and other marine species. Deloitte Access Economics has valued the Great Barrier Reef of Australia at AU$56 billion.
A damaged coral reef results in oceans being able to support fewer underwater plants and fishes and other marine resources as well as reducing the tourist economy of that land in and itself. Corals are priced from a minimum of US$50 and go upward as a high as the price of a bitcoin depending on its qualities and size.
The country’s only coral reef island is equally under threat just like its’ global counterparts such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Fiji, Seychelles, Dominican Republic and other reefs across the world. Just as the Amazon along with other forests act as lifeline, corals are an inseparable and integral part of our marine life.
Indonesia is a major exporter and supplier of various corals to the world which has caused a stir in the recent months due to its export ban which is causing ripples in the supply chain worldwide.
Bangladesh with its vastly under-utilized maritime resources can play a revolutionary role in acquiring technical expertise for commercial and local production of corals along with ornamental fishing and oyster and pearl harvesting to meets its local and worldwide growing supply due to its enormous economic and environmental significance.