Dramatic drop in biodiversity
This is the conclusion contained in the latest Living Blue Planet Report, issued by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature).
Economically important fish stocks such as mackerel, tuna and bonito fell by as much as 74 percent. Today, every fourth shark, ray or skate species is under threat of extinction, due mainly to global overfishing. Particularly affected by this decline in fish stocks are the emerging and developing countries.
For some three billion people, fish is the main source of protein. Worldwide, it is one of the most intensively traded goods, with an annual trade volume of 144 billion US dollars.
"Overfishing affects not only the balance of life in the oceans, but also in coastal communities, where social and economic structures often depend directly on fish. A collapse of marine ecosystems perpetuates the global fight against poverty and hunger, and causes an economic downturn," WWF fisheries expert Karoline Schacht warned.
According to the WWF, human exploitation is the main cause of the collapse of marine biodiversity, alongside the destruction of important habitats such as coral reefs, sea grass beds and mangrove forests. Three-quarters of the world's coral reefs and one-fifth of mangrove forests are currently under threat. Between 1980 and 2005, they have fallen victim to the construction of aquaculture facilities, tourist infrastructure or agricultural use.
However, despite the dire situation, there is still hope. We can prevent the oceans from collapsing, as long as urgent action is taken to remedy the situation. As a dynamic system with numerous systems within itself, the oceans have the potential to recover, said Schacht.
The presence of marine protected areas without human intervention, sustainable fisheries and positive action on climate change are indispensable in tackling the current problems.
In the Report, the WWF has listed a set of Sustainable Development Goals to be implemented in late September. This includes designating at least ten percent of the marine habitats in coastal areas and on the high seas as marine protected areas, to be properly managed by 2020. Within the same frame, it also called for the international community to formulate a system of sustainable management of international fish stocks, thus cutting down on overfishing, building reconstruction plans and preserving the marine environment.
In addition, the WWF also called for an international agreement to halt global warming, a key factor in the conservation of the world’s oceans.
Watch the video of the stunning world "of the seas" and what we are abolut to loose.
Download the Living Blue Planet Report (pdf)