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GEF’s Fifth International Waters Conference Highlights Large Marine Ecosystems Are Warming More Rapidly Than Expected

GEF's Fifth International Waters Conference Highlights Large Marine Ecosystems Are Warming More Rapidly Than Expected 27 October 2009: The Fifth GEF Biennial International Waters Conference, co-hosted by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Government of Australia, gathered over 300 of the world's leading water specialists to identify practical measures for coping with climatic variability. The Conference convened from 24-29 October 2009, at the Australian Great Barrier Reef, and featured new research on protecting coral reefs, adapting to the accelerated warming of coastal oceans, and adjusting to the movement of fisheries away from warming, polluted waters.

One research project presented was a recent global assessment financed by the GEF that indicates that large marine ecosystems (LMEs) are warming much more rapidly than expected and are over-fished and over-fertilized. The study found that 61 of the world's 64 large marine ecosystems show a significant increase in sea surface temperatures in the last 25 years, contributing to decreasing fisheries catches in some areas and increasing catches in others.

The subject of growing “Dead Zones” of coastal and marine waters caused by disruption of the global nitrogen cycle and accelerated warming were also debated, with input from a pre-conference workshop in China organized by the GEF's Science and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP).[GEF Press Release, 26 October][GEF Press Release, 19 October]