The Coral Triangle is an expanse of ocean covering 5.7 million square kilometers and is considered to be the epicenter of marine life abundance and diversity on the planet. Located along the equator at the confluence of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, the boundaries of this region cover all or part of the exclusive economic zones of six countries (CT6): Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.
Often referred to as the ‘Amazon of the Seas’, the Coral Triangle is home to 76% of all known coral species, 37% of all known coral reef fish species, 53% of the world’s coral reefs, about 3,000 species of reef fish, and the greatest extent of mangrove forests in the world. It also serves as the spawning and juvenile growth areas for the world’s largest and most valuable tuna fishery.
The marine and coastal resources of the Coral Triangle, along with the many goods and services they provide, are at immediate risk from a range of factors, including the impacts of climate change, over-fishing, unsustainable fishing methods, and land-based sources of pollution. These factors adversely affect food security, employment opportunities, and the standard of living for more than 120 million coastal people in this region. Fisheries exports and coastal tourism revenues (each of which provides about US$3 billion in annual foreign exchange income in the region) are also under threat.
These risk factors led to the development of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) in 2007. Sponsored by President Yudhoyono of Indonesia, this initiative seeks, through regional cooperation, to sustainably manage coastal and marine resources throughout the coral triangle.
The KIs will focus on the communication and dissemination of knowledge, rather than just on its capture and storage. In doing so, they will ensure that existing data are transformed into timely knowledge and made available for sound policymaking in the region.
Sustainable resource management in the CT6 countries
The key outcome to be derived from this project is the sustainable management of coastal and marine resources in the CT6 countries. Some of the key deliverables that will make this possible include:
A ‘State of Coral Triangle Report’ for each of the CT6 countries that will serve as the baseline for measuring the effectiveness of the management of resources within the Coral Triangle.
A Regional Plan of Action that will assist in decision-making and the setting of priorities.
A Knowledge Management Information System, which will serve as the portal for the exchange of information between the CT6 countries, and form the foundation for ongoing regional cooperation.