Practically half of all marine life has been lost in just 42 years, according to the Living blue planet report by WWF in collaboration with Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
This isn’t only unsustainable, but heartbreaking, and something needs to change so the same doesn’t happen in the next 4 decades.
The study occurred between the years of 1970 and 2012 and the analysis tracked 5,829 populations of 1,234 species making the database significantly larger than past studies.
Some fish species, including tuna and mackerel have declined over 75%. The main drivers of these declines are due to human actions such as overfishing, over-exploitation and habitat destruction.
What is also alarming is that three-quarters of the worlds’ coral reefs are threatened due to coastal agriculture and climate change stressors such as warming and ocean acidification causing bleaching events. There is concerns that coral reefs could be lost from most areas by 2050, which could have dramatic effects on ecosystems and consequences on communities with 850 million people benefiting from their economic and cultural services. Another is the decline of mangroves, 20% decline in cover between 1980 and 2005, mangroves are vital ecosystems for climate change adaptation and fisheries support but also cultural significance.
Brad Ack, senior vice president for Oceans at WWF and his colleagues call for immediate measures to stop this decline, such as ending illegal fishing and protecting coral reefs, mangroves and other critical ocean habitats.
Professor Ken Norris, Director of Science at ZSL said “The ocean works hard in the background to keep us alive, generating half of the world’s oxygen and absorbing almost a third of the carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels. It also feeds billions of people around the globe, some of whom rely solely on the oceans to survive. These devastating figures reveal how quickly human beings are changing the wildlife in our oceans and are a stark warning of the problems we might face as a result.”
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International concluded “If we live within sustainable limits, the ocean will contribute to food security, livelihoods, economies and our natural systems.”
Although it is not all doom and gloom as we can reverse this damage and prevent further devastation. There is still time to find solutions and protect key habitats, Lambertini explained that oceans are “dynamic, interconnected global ecosystem that can bounce back relatively quickly.” As long as we take immediate action.
Along with the report here are some other articles:
Photo taken with GoPro Hero 3 in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, USA