The big news in the press this week is the release of the WWF Living Blue Planet Report which paints a very bleak picture for the future of ocean ecosystems in South Africa and worldwide.
The report is released every two years, providing a picture of the current state of the oceans globally.
According to Marco Lambertini, WWF director-general, the report illustrates how humanity is “collectively mismanaging the ocean to the brink of collapse.”
The two main issues highlighted by the report are the irreversible damage done within a single generation by fishing faster than the fish are able to reproduce and the careless destruction of fish nurseries such as estuaries, seagrass meadows, mangroves and corals.
In the last 40 years, global marine populations have dropped by more than half. Even more shockingly deep-sea fish populations in the North Atlantic have dropped by an unprecedented 72 percent.
Other findings of the report include:
- More than 5 trillion plastic pieces floating in our oceans
- Toxic waste from industries continues to enter the marine system
- A rapid increase in coastal tourism has resulted in marine habitat destruction
- Cruise ships generate 795,000 litres of sewerage each week which is often illegally dumped
- Mangroves essential for fish nurseries are being destroyed
- Fish subsidies worth $14 billion encourage over fishing on a global scale
In response to this, nearly three billion people worldwide rely on fish as a major food source and our oceans generate approximately $2.5 trillion annually in economic benefits.
Only 3.4 percent of the ocean is protected at this point in time.
According to Lambertini the ongoing mismanagement of our oceans in light of these facts is “simply unacceptable.”