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$63 million to protect Asia's 'Coral Triangle'

Climate Coral Triangle
This reef in Kimbe Bay off Papua New Guinea lies within Asia's "Coral Triangle."David Longstreath / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

An international fund that aids sustainable environment projects has committed $63 million  to help preserve Southeast Asia's Coral Triangle from overfishing and climate change, the Asian Development Bank said Tuesday.

The sprawling triangle, which straddles the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and East Timor, is believed to have the highest marine biodiversity in the world.

But excessive fishing, including the use of cyanide and dynamite, has destroyed large swathes of coral reef and depleted marine activity in the area. A rise in sea levels, ocean temperatures and water acidity because of climate change may also hasten the damage, the ADB said in statement.

The Manila-based bank said the multinational independent financial agency Global Environment Facility will fund activities to help preserve ecosystems in the coral triangle, and develop measures to adapt to climate change. The ADB is a fund partner.

Sustainable fishing sought
The activities will include support for the fishing industry to make it more sustainable, the ADB said, without detailing specific programs.

"The sustainable management of these resources is crucial to ensure that an adequate supply of food exists to sustain millions of people living along the coastlines," said GEF Chief Executive Monique Barbut, quoted in the ADB statement.

David McCauley, ADB senior environmental economist, said the reefs of the Coral Triangle underpin fisheries and tourism industries worth more than $5 billion annually.

The Global Environment Facility has 180 member countries, international institutions and private organizations. It is a top funder of projects to improve the environment, ADB said.