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Southeast Asian Coral Triangle

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Introduction

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I. Take a close look at where the Southeast Asian Triangle is located
II. Understand some of the ways in which life underwater interacts with one another
III. Learn about ways humans negatively effect this ecosystem.
IV. Learn about ways humans take an interest in preserving their ecosystems. 
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Location

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The Southeast Asian Coral Triangle is a diverse hotspot for millions of plant and animal life. We are going to begin looking at the contents of the Coral Triangle far off the shore and then we will head towards land to discuss the impact this environment has made on the subjects living above sea level.
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Life Below Sea Level

Coral Reefs are not only beautiful, they also house significant scientific details that structure the way underwater life functions. 
Although coral reefs only occupy 1/10th of 1% of the ocean floor, they are home to 1/4 of all known marine species.

You can consider the coral reefs to be a kind of apartment complex for marine life. The structures the coral build up naturally act as nesting areas, sleeping areas during the night, and can provide shelter for the marine life that hide from larger predators.
Each square foot of a coral reef is unique. This is because everything has a unique purpose!

Similar to life above sea level, there are many small components that work together to ensure the continuing growth of their community. 
Even the smallest of functions serves a purpose. After all, the coral themselves are made up of small anemone-like animals called Polyphs. Polyphs can be microscopic in size. They have within their own tissues incredible cells that absorb nutrients during the day and provide the Polyphs with over half of their daily food needs. This in turn regenerates coral growth and extends the life and size of the coral reefs.
You cannot see the tissues of the polyphs absorb nutrients with the naked eye, but technology has allowed us to recreate and speed up the process so that we can see how the coral reefs stay alive... 

 
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The Southeast Asian Coral Triangle is not just a landmark of beautiful sights to attract tourists. There are many livelihoods of species that depend on the coral triangle, including humans. Here are a few facts that make this coral reef unique: 

-There are over 76% of the known types of coral living in the Coral Triangle.

-It encompasses 5.7 million unique square km of ocean.

- Provides 6 nations with over 3 billion USD in profits from the fish and seafood global market.
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Life Above Sea Level

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Now that we know a little more about what happens below sea level, we can look at the ways in which life above sea level is effected by being surrounded by such a bountiful, yet fragile ecosystem. 
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There is no arguing the devastation that human life has caused on coral reefs. This kind of ecosystem is very fragile and it takes long periods of time and generations of plant and animal lives to filter out toxins and other types of waste that find their way into a coral reef.
But there have been positive changes to government policies that wish to protect their environment.
The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) was formed by six of the countries that share space within the coral triangle: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. These nations form what is known as the CT6, or Coral Triangle 6.
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The Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono proposed the idea of forming the CTI when he noticed a significant amount of degraded costal area. Fisheries have had a profound impact on the coral ecosystem recently.  
Fishing and hunting marine life have both negative and positive outcomes. The CT6 generate revenue from selling fish globally. There is an abundance of food that can be sourced from the coral triangle, especially tuna. 
However, before the CTI there was no regulation on how much fishing/hunting you could do. There were also no laws prohibiting the hunting of endangered species.   
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The CTI negotiated a Regional Plan of Action (RPoA), that does not legally bind any of the CT6 to a contract for smarter environmentally conscious activity. Although any violations of the Regional Plan of Action cannot result in any legal consequences, it does show an effort on the part of the CT6 to preserve the Coral Triangle.
There are also National Plans of Action (NPoA) agreements that ensures the RPoA will not set a standard one of the countries in the CT6 can't uphold. In other words, countries who have people that rely on food sources from the Coral Triangle are exempt from penalties for fishing and hunting for any marine plant or animal. 
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Although there are many proposed solutions to help the regression of biodiversity in the Coral Triangle, the decision to create policies belong to the people who share the area with this system. 

With programs like the CTI we are witnesses firsthand the creation of Southeast Asian policies that respond to their environment as well as their cultural climate. 
Along with new discourses that open up about the politics, morality, and lifestyles in Southeast Asia, there are have been significant scientific endeavors to restore and even recreate life found in the Coral Triangle. 
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Sources

Attenborough, David. Blue Planet II: Coral Reefs. Season 1, Ep. 2. 2017. Video.

Berdej, Samantha; Mark Andrachuk and Derek Armitage. Conservation Narratives and Their Implications in the Coral Triangle Initiative. Conservation & Society, Vol.13, No. 2. 2015. Pp. 212-220.

Williams, Meryl J.. Will New Multilateral Arrangements Help Southeast Asian States Solve Illegal Fishing?. Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 35, No. 2. 2013. Pp. 258-283.


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