A new report issued by WWF reveals that the value of the world’s ocean is $24 trillion.
The report, Reviving the Ocean Economy: The case for action – 2015, analyzes the ocean’s role as an economic powerhouse and outlines the threats that are moving it toward collapse. Produced in association with The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and The Boston Consulting Group, the report is the most focused review yet of the ocean’s asset base.
According to the report, the value of the ocean’s resources rivals the wealth of the world’s leading economies. However, we need to take some serious actions to save oceans resources, which are rapidly eroding.
If we compare the value of ocean assets to the world’s top 10 economies, the ocean would rank seventh with an annual value of goods and services of $2.5 trillion.
The report revealed the sea’s enormous wealth through assessments of goods and services ranging from fisheries to coastal storm protection. At the same time, the report described an unrelenting assault on ocean resources through over-exploitation, misuse, and climate change.
“The ocean rivals the wealth of the world’s richest countries, but it is being allowed to sink to the depths of a failed economy,” Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said in a statement. “As responsible shareholders, we cannot seriously expect to keep recklessly extracting the ocean’s valuable assets without investing in its future.”
Collapsing fisheries, mangrove deforestation, as well as disappearing corals and sea grass are threatening the marine economic engine that secures lives and livelihoods around the world, according to the report.
The report showed that the ocean is changing more rapidly than at any other point in millions of years. Growth in human population and reliance on the sea makes restoring the ocean economy and its core assets a matter of global urgency.
“The ocean is at greater risk now than at any other time in recorded history. We are pulling out too many fish, dumping in too many pollutants, and warming and acidifying the ocean to a point that essential natural systems will simply stop functioning,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the report’s lead author and director of the Global Change Institute in Australia’s University of Queensland.
The leading cause of the ocean’s failing health is climate change, according to the report, which showed that at the current rate of 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 will take hundreds of human generations for the ocean to repair.
The report revealed an eight-point action plan that would restore ocean resources to their full potential. Among the most time-critical solutions are embedding ocean recovery throughout the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, taking global action on climate change, and making good on strong commitments to protect coastal and marine areas.
“The ocean feeds us, employs us, and supports our health and well-being, yet we are allowing it to collapse before our eyes. If everyday stories of the ocean’s failing health don’t inspire our leaders, perhaps a hard economic analysis will. We have serious work to do to protect the ocean starting with real global commitments on climate and sustainable development,” Lambertini added.
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