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WWF Briefing for the Westminster Hall Adjournment Debate on Ocean Health

10 July 2012

Key points:
- Managing our oceans in a sustainable and equitable manner is essential for our future and is now more critical than ever.
- Oceans provide a home to nearly half the species on Earth, provide the largest source of protein to the world’s growing population and regulate global climate patterns.  We can therefore no longer view the oceans as an infinite source of food and energy and a sink for pollution.

Background:
Oceans and seas play a critical role in sustaining the Earth's life support systems. They provide a habitat for nearly 50% of all species on the planet, and they protect us all by moderating our climate through absorbing carbon and heat. They also provide 2.6 billion people with their primary source of protein and contribute $70 trillion to global GDP. Managing our oceans in a sustainable and equitable manner is therefore essential for our future. We can no longer allow resources that so many communities depend upon for their livelihoods, food security and economic development, to be so poorly governed. The equitable and sustainable management of our seas and oceans is currently under threat in 2 ways:

  1. 1. The health of our oceans is suffering from unsustainable use both at sea and on land, from overfishing to fertiliser run-off. We are fundamentally changing the composition and equilibrium of our oceans through overuse and poor management. On top of this, the increased volume of carbon in the atmosphere is causing the oceans to acidify, reducing biodiversity and destroying coral reef and polar ecosystems. We can no longer see the oceans as an infinite source of food and energy and a sink for pollution and excess carbon.
  2. 2. Overfishing, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing are the main cause of the demise of many of the world’s fish stocks. The World Bank estimates that economic losses in marine fisheries from poor management amount to $ 50 billion annually. And with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimating that 85% of global marine fish stocks are fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted; they are in a more perilous position now than ever before.
Debate tabled by Kerry McCarthy MP on July 11th 11-11.30 am

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Fishing boat off the shores of the Lofoten Islands, Norway

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WWF Briefing for Westminster Hall Adjournement Debate on Ocean Health