Ocean Assets Under Siege
The ocean’s wealth rivals those of the world’s leading economies, but its resources are rapidly eroding, according to a new World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report. The analysis, Reviving the Ocean Economy: The Case for Action, conservatively estimates the value of key ocean assets to be at least $24 trillion. If compared to the world’s top 10 economies, the ocean would rank as the seventh largest, with an annual value of goods and services of $2.5 trillion.
The report, produced in association with The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), combines scientific evidence of environmental degradation with an economic case for urgent conservation action. Using an innovative economic analysis, the ocean’s value is quantified based on assessments of goods and services ranging from fisheries to coastal storm protection, resulting in an overall asset value and an annual dividend output (comparable to a GDP).
The economic values listed in the new report are conservative, as outputs—such as wind energy—are not generated by the ocean, and were therefore excluded from the report. Valuable intangibles, such as the ocean’s role in climate regulation or production of oxygen, were also left out. This report connects scientific evidence with potential impacts aligned with current trends, making it one of the first economic assessments of this kind.
More than two-thirds of the annual value of oceans relies on healthy conditions to maintain its current output. However, habitat destruction, overfishing, pollution, and climate change are endangering this economic engine and the security and livelihoods it supports. Marine resources are on a rapid decline and our oceans are changing faster than we have ever seen before.
“The oceans are our ‘natural capital’—a global savings account from which we keep making only withdrawals,” said Brad Ack, Senior Vice President for Oceans at WWF. “To continue this pattern leads one place: bankruptcy. It is time for significant reinvestment and protection of this global commons.”
The report identifies eight urgent, achievable actions that can help turn oceans around and allow it to continue to meet the essential needs of humanity and nature, ranging from taking global action to avoiding dangerous climate changes to driving international cooperation and investment for the oceans.
Research included in the report shows that at the current rate of ocean 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 if unchecked will take thousands of years for the ocean to repair.
Over-exploitation is another major cause for the ocean’s decline, with 90 percent of globally-monitored fish stocks either over-exploited or fully exploited. The Pacific bluefin tuna population alone has dropped by 96 percent from previous levels.
These trends are still reversible however, the report emphasizes. Reviving the Ocean Economy presents an eight-point action plan that could restore ocean resources to their full potential.
Among the most time-critical solutions presented in the report are taking global action on climate change, embedding ocean recovery throughout the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and making good on strong commitments to protect coastal and marine areas.
This year marks a unique opportunity for the future of our oceans, as international negotiations on climate change and sustainable development will soon to take place. In the days following the report release the US government takes a leadership role as Chair of the Arctic Council. Working with the 7 other Arctic member nations the U.S. may chart a path for a sustainable future, critical for the health of people, species, and a thriving global economy of marine goods and services
We need action for resilient oceans, so the marine ecosystems, wildlife and people they support can thrive in a changing climate.
Climate Change News via http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/ocean-assets-valued-at-24-trillion-but-dwindling-fast
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