Friday, April 24, 2015

The World’s Oceans Are Worth Trillions of Dollars, Report Finds

Capture (Credit: World Wildlife Fund) Click to Enlarge.
The oceans are worth at least $24 trillion in services such as fishing, tourism, shipping and carbon sequestration, but “urgent action” is needed if the world wants to maintain that ocean economy, according to a new report.

The report, published this week by the World Wildlife Fund, states that if the oceans were a country, they would be the world’s seventh-largest economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  And, according to the report, even those measurements of the oceans’ value are likely underestimates:  the report didn’t take into account essential ocean services such as oxygen production, temperature stabilization, and cultural services in putting a value on the ocean.
The report lays out eight steps countries should take to preserve the ocean economy, actions that include reducing emissions — an effort that the report says must include the adoption of a binding agreement at the United Nations’ climate talks in November — and committing to increase ocean and coastal conservation.  It also calls for the creation of an international “Blue Alliance” made up of countries that would “cultivate international will” and “establish a global fund to support countries that have fewer resources and are more vulnerable to the impacts of ocean degradation.”

The report notes that the oceans — and thus the economic resources they provide — are already being heavily degraded.  Pollution, overfishing, poorly-planned aquaculture, coastal development, tourism, climate change, and a range of other stressors have greatly affected the oceans over the last few decades.  One of the most striking examples of this degradation is the loss of the ocean’s coral reefs, which, aside from serving as a home to a wide range of marine life, can help protect shoreline communities against storm surge.

“Recent studies indicate that at least 50 percent of reef-building corals on tropical reefs in Southeast Asia, Australia, the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Caribbean have disappeared from reefs over the past 30 years,” the report states.  “While declining water quality and over-exploitation represent serious short-term threats to coral reefs, ocean warming from climate change and ocean acidification are widely appreciated as two of the greatest threats to reefs.”

Read more at The World’s Oceans Are Worth Trillions of Dollars, Report Finds

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