An eight-point action plan to restore ocean resources to their full potential
The value of the ocean’s riches rivals the size of the world’s leading economies, but its resources are rapidly eroding, according to a report released by WWF.
The report, ‘Reviving the Ocean Economy: The case for action – 2015’, analyses the ocean’s role as an economic powerhouse and outlines the threats that are moving it toward collapse.
The value of key ocean assets is conservatively estimated in the report to be at least US$24 trillion. If compared to the world’s top 10 economies, the ocean would rank seventh with an annual value of goods and services of US$2.5 trillion.
The report, produced in association with The Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is the most focused review yet of the ocean’s asset base. Reviving the Ocean Economy reveals the sea’s enormous wealth through assessments of goods and services ranging from fisheries to coastal storm protection, but the report also describes an unrelenting assault on ocean resources through over-exploitation, misuse and climate change.
WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini said the ocean rivals the wealth of the world’s richest countries, but it was being allowed to sink to the depths of a failed economy.
“As responsible shareholders, we cannot seriously expect to keep recklessly extracting the ocean’s valuable assets without investing in its future,” he said.
According to the report, more than two-thirds of the annual value of the ocean relies on healthy conditions to maintain its annual economic output. Collapsing fisheries, mangrove deforestation as well as disappearing corals and seagrass are threatening the marine economic engine that secures lives and livelihoods around the world.
The report’s lead author, Global Change Institute Director, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said the ocean was at greater risk now than at any other time in recorded history.
“We are pulling out too many fish, dumping in too many pollutants, and warming and acidifying the ocean to a point that essential natural systems will simply stop functioning,” he said.
Climate change is a leading cause of the ocean’s failing health.
Research included in the report shows that at the current rate of warming, coral reefs that provide food, jobs and storm protection to several hundred million people will disappear completely by 2050. More than just warming waters, climate change is inducing increased ocean acidity that will take hundreds of human generations for the ocean to repair.
Over-exploitation is another major cause for the ocean’s decline, with 90 per cent of global fish stocks either over-exploited or fully exploited. The Pacific bluefin tuna population alone has dropped by 96 per cent from unfished levels.
It is not too late to reverse the troubling trends and ensure a healthy ocean that benefits people, business and nature. Reviving the Ocean Economy presents an eight-point action plan that would restore ocean resources to their full potential.
Media: The Global Change Institute (07) 3443 3100
Reviving the Ocean Economy (Executive summary)
Reviving the Ocean Economy (Full report)