The Coral Triangle

The Coral Triangle is the world’s centre of marine life – a vast, majestic and colourful coral nursery sheltering and sustaining thousands of whales, tuna, reef fish, sharks and marine turtles.

About the Coral Triangle

The Coral Triangle is the world’s centre of marine life – a vast, majestic and colourful coral nursery sheltering and sustaining thousands of whales, tuna, reef fish, sharks and turtles.
Here, the diversity of coral, fish and other species is higher than anywhere else on Earth, including:
  • 75 percent of all coral species known to science
  • More than 3,000 species of reef fish and commercially-valuable open ocean species including yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, bigeye tuna, bumphead parrotfish, and Napoleon wrasse
  • Six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles including green, hawksbill, olive ridley, leatherback, loggerhead, and flatback
  • Migrating whale sharks and manta rays which are attracted to the region by abundant plankton.
  • At least 27 species of marine mammals including dolphin, porpoise, whale and the endangered dugong

The Coral Triangle provides benefits to millions of people every day

  • Coral reefs, mangroves and associated natural habitats are a source of livelihood, income, and food security, particularly for coastal communities. The total value of these is estimated at more than US$2.3 billion per year.
  • Tuna spawning and nursery grounds support a multi-million dollar tuna industry and supply millions of consumers worldwide.
  • Healthy marine resources contribute to a growing nature-based tourism industry, valued at over US$12 billion annually.
  • Healthy reef systems and mangroves protect coastal communities from storms and tsunamis, reducing immediate damage and future reconstruction costs.
  • Coastal resources are the foundation for traditional cultures and sustain social fabric in many of the region’s islands.
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© Rupert Murray
Flute Player, Coral Triangle, Philippines
© Rupert Murray

Problems in the Coral Triangle

  • Marine resources are being depleted at an unsus¬tainable rate to supply growing seafood markets within the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
  • Overfishing and destructive fishing methods, including the use of cyanide and dynamite, have destroyed large sections of coral reefs and depleted fish populations. This trend is made worse by the practice of targeting juveniles and fish spawning aggregations.
  • The unintentional harvesting of non-target species in fisheries – or “bycatch” – is seriously endangering species such as sea turtles.
  • More than 75 percent of the world’s resource- intensive aquaculture industry is centred in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia, and increasingly Malaysia.
  • Climate change affects marine biodiversity and the lives of those who depend on the reefs for food and income. In particular, coral bleaching poses a major threat to coral reefs.
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Solutions for the Coral Triangle

To maintain the health and productivity of the Coral Triangle, the region must be managed as a single, large-scale system, biological, social and economic.

WWF is working to safeguard the health of the region’s natural treasures and secure the millions of livehoods that depend upon them by:

• Building a sustainable live reef fish trade
• Promoting sustainable tuna fisheries
• Financing marine protected areas
• Protecting marine turtles in the Indo-Pacific
• Reducing the impacts of Climate Change.

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WWF researcher monitoring reef/Philippines
© Juergen Freud/WWF

The WWF Coral Triangle Programme

The WWF Coral Triangle Programme is working to transform the management of the natural resource base of the oceans and coasts in the Coral Triangle. It aims to conserve coral reefs, mangroves and sea grass beds, demersal and pelagic fish, and sea-turtles by creating enabling conditions to reduce the negative footprint of governments and industry on these targets and facilitating and enhancing the impact of WWF’s national marine programmes in the region.