A team of researchers is meeting this week in New Caledonia to mark the launch a French initiative aimed at protecting coral reefs.
The three-year, US$12 million programme, financed by the French Development Agency, aims to support protected marine sites and to create new protected areas whilst better ensuring sustainable development.
Overfishing, poor management of coastal areas and sedimentation owing to creeping urbanisation are often cited as the main threats to reef ecosystems.
An expert on reef systems from France's Practical School of Higher Education, Bernard Salvat, says the reefs of the South Pacific, and more especially of the Central Pacific, are well protected because demographic pressure is a lot less than in Southeast Asia.
Mr Salvat says low levels of pollution in the region have further benefited the Pacific reefs.