A new World Wide Fund for Nature report reveals a disturbing decline in marine biodiversity over the last few decades. According to their Living Blue Planet Report, populations of marine vertebrates have declined by 49% between 1970 and 2012, with some fish species decreasing by almost 75%.
General Director, Marco Lambertini beautifully opens the report by saying “Our ocean – that seemingly infinitely bountiful, ever awe-inspiring blue that defines our planet from space – is in crisis”. Did you know that a startling 60% of protein intake in coastal countries, supporting millions of small-scale fishers as well as a global multibillion-dollar industry are constituted by fish?
In addition to fish, the report shows abrupt declines in coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses that support marine food webs and provide valuable services to people. With over 25% of all marine species living in coral reefs and about 850 million people directly benefiting from their economic, social and cultural services, the loss of coral reefs would be a disastrous extinction with dramatic consequences on communities.
We are clearly and mutually pushing the ocean to the edge of collapse. Considering the ocean’s vital role in our economies and its essential contribution to food safety – principally for poor, coastal communities – that’s merely intolerable.
There are solutions we could adopt to put a stop to this: smart fishing practices that eliminate by catch, waste and overfishing; protecting habitats, conserving species, cutting the CO2 emissions which are endangering the ocean’s acidification, end waste and at least try to cut down on the pollution. To which we can add “The good news is there are abundant opportunities to reverse these trends,” said Brad Ack, senior vice president for oceans at WWF. “Stopping black market fishing, protecting coral reefs, mangroves and other critical ocean habitats, and striking a deal in Paris to slash carbon pollution are all good for the ocean, the economy, and people. Now is the time for the US and other world players to lead on these important opportunities.” Easily said than done since there some many of us are rather ignorant to such a problem.
You might want to take a look at the full report.