UN World Ocean Assessment

We are running out of time to save our oceans. According to a new comprehensive assessment by the United Nations, “Human impacts on the sea are no longer minor in relation to the overall scale of the ocean.” In other words, climate change, pollution, overfishing and other human-caused activity has left our oceans in a dire state, and we don’t have much time left to prevent more widespread destruction.

The 55-chapter report, called the “World Ocean Assessment,” was presented last week to a United Nations working group, and it calls for bold action to save our oceans. The team of experts who completed the assessment looked at a variety of issues to determine how each effects oceanic ecosystems and marine biodiversity. From climate change to ocean acidification to offshore drilling to industrial runoff, our oceans are under serious threat. And, without out our oceans, life as we know it would quickly disappear.

Ocean currents have an enormous effect on our weather and climate, and more than 3.5 billion people depend on our seas for income, energy and food. Last year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to draft a legally-binding international treaty to protect our oceans, and this latest report explains what we need to do to save our seas. Unsurprisingly, it can be summed up by saying that we need better international management of all human activities that affect the oceans.

But we can find ways to benefit from making these necessary changes. John Tanzer, director of the Global Marine Programme at the World Wide Fund for Nature, said that the way we undertake such action can even provide new opportunities for businesses, communities, and governments to work together. We have the ability to save the oceans, and even create jobs in the process. We can’t survive long without our oceans, but saving them could help us shape a better future for all.

The BBC also reports that populations of marine mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have declined by 49% since 1970.

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