An underwater referee fights for survival | Global Ideas | DW | 28.04.2015
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An underwater referee fights for survival

A war is playing out in the depths off the coast of Brazil, where seagrass and algae threaten coral reefs. The parrotfish could be the solution - if it can be saved extinction.

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Project goal: Preventing overfishing by small fisheries; maintaining balance between algae, coral and other species around the Abrolhos reefs

Conservation program: Comparing the number of blue parrotfish on protected and unprotected reefs. Recording the concentration of algae in relation to the growth of coral.


  • Underwater observation and recording of species numbers
  • Development of a database and new protection guidelines
  • Involvement of national and regional fishing authorities
  • Preparation of a public awareness campaign

Biological diversity: Protecting the blue parrotfish is crucial for the diversity of all other fish species and corals.

Size: Located 50 km from the town of Caravelas in the Brazilian state of Bahia, Abrolhos National Park spans an area of 107 hectares and is South America's largest reef.

Project volume: The Abrolhos protection project is supported by Conservation International (CI), which has played a key role in creating 17 endowments for protected areas internationally. The International Climate Initiative (ICI) funds a project analyzing ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) in Brazil, South Africa and the Philippines - to the tune of almost 4.5 million euros.

Off the coast of Brazil, where algae and seagrass are threatening coral reefs, marine researchers see blue parrotfish - which graze on the seabed - as the solution. But the fish species is facing its own existential problems: a popular entry on the menus of coastal restaurants, it is officially endangered, and gradually disappearing. Determined to buck the trend, Conservation International marine biologists are working to prove just how vital parrotfish are to the health of coral reefs.

A film by Holger Trzeczak

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