The Coral Triangle

An Ecosystem Under Threat

The World’s Center Of Marine Life

Often compared to the Amazon, the Coral Triangle is one of the world’s richest areas of marine life. Stretching across six countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste), the area has 76% of all known coral species in the world and is home to 37% of the world’s total coral reef fish.


All known coral species in the world


World’s total coral reef fish

Over 100 million people living in the Coral Triangle region depend on these resources for their livelihoods.

An Important Resource Under Threat

Unfortunately, unsustainable and destructive methods of fishing, mangrove deforestation, reclamation, unregulated tourism, and pollution are threatening this marginal ecosystem.

A man carrying a tuna while buyers look on
Tuna being traded at the General Santos Fish Port in Mindanao, Philippines.

Climate change is also affecting the Coral Triangle and other marine and coastal ecosystems. Rising seas and increased levels of carbon dioxide are having a profound impact on coral reefs and mangroves.

Income losses in the Philippines from overfishing are estimated at $1.2 billion over 20 years

Income losses in the Philippines from overfishing are estimated at $1.2 billion over the past 20 years, while losses linked to climate change across the Coral Triangle region are estimated at $38.3 billion.

Threats to the Coral Triangle put at risk millions of people dependent on this fragile ecosystem for food, building materials, coastal protection, and trade.

The Coral Triangle Initiative – A Call to Action

To protect and sustain this valuable resource and the economic benefits it brings to many people in the region, six nations from Southeast Asia and the Pacific launched the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF) in 2007.

A picture of a sea turtle
Sea turtle at Apo Reef – a protected marine sanctuary in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, Philippines.

Together with other efforts worldwide to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to slow and eventually halt the impact of climate change impacts on the Coral Triangle, the CTI-CFF is now working with coastal communities dependent on this valuable resource. CTI-CFF helps them to act as stewards and to adjust their lifestyles and livelihoods to promote sustainability.

An Involved Community

Fishing communities will be the most affected economically if coastal and marine resources continue to deteriorate. Alternative eco-friendly livelihoods are now being set up that will improve incomes and at the same time involve communities in protecting and easing the pressure on critical marine resources.

With assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a community-based coral reef rehabilitation and management system project (COREMAP) in Indonesia is mobilizing local people to help protect, rehabilitate, and manage mangroves and coral reefs, which serve as irreplaceable breeding grounds for fish and other marine life.

A picture of a fishing community
A fishing community in Riau Islands, Indonesia.

To reduce poverty and pressure on marine resources, alternative income generating activities have been introduced. Convincing fishermen to stop using destructive fishing methods is no easy task. However, with their wives receiving business training and access to loans, it has been easier for women to convince their husbands to protect the marine resources that mean food on the table for most families.

To reduce poverty and pressure on marine resources, alternative income generating activities have been introduced.

Ermiyati, a 46-year-old teacher, and her family make kerupuk atom, a type of Indonesian fish cracker shaped like little balls that a Malaysian distributor buys from them and sells abroad. She is a recipient of a $600 loan that she used to purchase equipment that helped boosts their income.

A picture of a woman vendor
Ermiyati, 46, is proud of her "Kerupuk Atom"

"To reduce the pressure on the marine resources, it is crucial that alternative forms of livelihood are promoted among coastal communities," - Ulia Fachmi, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries office in Riau Islands Province, Indonesia.

In the province of Palawan, in the Philippines, similar projects funded by the ADB, like the Philippines Integrated Costal Resources Management Project, are also helping fishing communities reverse the trend of marine resource depletion. This is due to unregulated fishing, destruction of mangroves, and dynamite and cyanide fishing, which significantly reduces their catch.

Around 370 hectares of coastal waters have been declared fish sanctuaries.

Around 370 hectares of coastal waters have been declared fish sanctuaries. Here, fishing and other destructive activities are prohibited so that fish stocks will recover. Some fish sanctuaries have already become ecotourism destinations.

A picture of a fish sanctuary
Pambato Fish Sanctuary in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is now generating income for nearby fishing communities.

A Sustainable Future

People living in coastal communities in the Coral Triangle region have realized the importance of managing and keeping their marine resources healthy so that they will continue to harvest the benefits.

A picture of a fish sanctuary
Angelino Rebininola once used cyanide for fishing. He is now a strong advocate for marine conservation.

Increased awareness, a change in attitude toward conservation, and continued global action on climate change will ensure the future of a vast number of people who depend on this valuable and finite resource for their livelihood.

"We must educate people, especially our children, and make them aware that if we protect the marine environment, we can help enrich our marine resources." - Mr. Angelino Rebininola