Measured Decline in Reef Health Continues

Credit: HRI

Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative 2022 Report Card Documents Fifth Year of Declining Ecosystem Health

The Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) released its latest Mesoamerican Reef Report Card in December 2022. Working with more than 70 partners across the region, HRI collects data on the condition of the ecosystem, measuring corals, harmful algae, and important fish species, and computes a Reef Health Index.

The 2022 report shows that, after a decade of improvement, overall reef health has declined over the past five years and now is at its lowest level since HRI’s measurement began in 2006. Driving this drop is a gradual increase in harmful fleshy macroalgae, which is linked to nutrient pollution and a decrease in herbivorous fish, and a dramatic decline in herbivorous and commercial fish biomass, particularly in Belize.

Science-based management reforms are needed throughout the region to reform and rebuild currently unsustainable fisheries, address nutrient pollution from inadequately treated sewage and agricultural run-off, and dramatically increase the coverage of fully protected fish refuges.

Healthy Reefs Initiative

Report card media release