A great part of the coral reef resources in the world are in danger of destruction due to over exploitation, degradation of habitat and, possibly, changes in global climate. Globally, the resulting loss of income from fisheries is estimated to be billions of dollars a year and affects many millions of people. Few figures are available to indicate the sustainable yields that might be extracted for different reef types, current and potential yields of different reef species, how yields are affected by declining reef health and loss of productive capacity, and the value of non-extractive uses of reefs (such as tourism). Sophisticated methods to quantify the deterioration of coral reefs have been initiated in some areas, while hardly any assessment or monitoring activities exist in others. Information from these activities is usually published in the primary scientific literature and may not be readily available or understood by a non-technical reader. A larger body of information has been compiled in technical reports, which are generally for limited distribution. This makes it difficult for the people tasked with managing coral reefs to obtain the information needed for good management even when comprehensive information exists. ReefBase gathers available knowledge about coral reefs into one information repository. It is intended to facilitate analyses and monitoring of coral reef health and the quality of life of reef-dependent people, and to support informed decisions about coral reef use and management. ReefBase is the official database of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), as well as the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN). The ReefBase Project is housed at the WorldFish Center in Penang, Malaysia, with funding through ICRAN from the United Nations Foundation (UNF).
Key Objectives of ReefBase
- Develop a relational database and information system for structured information on coral reefs and their resources that will serve as a computerized encyclopedia and analytical tool for use in reef management, conservation and research.
- Provide key information to support decision-making by fisheries and environmental managers in developing countries, especially those concerned with improving the livelihoods of poor fishers.
- Collaborate with other national, regional, and international databases, and GIS facilities relating to reefs, and provide a means of comparing and interpreting information at the global level.
- Develop and distribute analytical routines for ReefBase that will make full use of the information and ensure appropriate interpretation and synthesis.
- Serve as the central repository for data of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) and the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN).
- Define criteria for reef health and use them to refine procedures for coral reef assessments and to determine coral reef status at the regional and global level.
- Determine the relationships among coral reef health, fishery production and the quality of life of people dependent on reefs.