Humanity’s mismanagement of the ocean has led to the loss of almost half of the world’s marine mammals, reptiles, and fish in a single generation.
This isn’t a story you’ll tell your grandchildren in good humor. In fact, it will likely be labeled as one of modern man’s most depressing ‘achievements’ in years to come.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, humanity’s mismanagement of the ocean has led to the loss of almost half of the world’s marine mammals, reptiles, and fish in a single generation. The emergency edition of WWF’s “Living Blue Planet Report” revealed a 49% decline in marine vertebrate populations between 1970 and 2012. For some fish, such as tuna and mackerel, that figure is near 75%.
As France24 News reports, the Geneva-based conservation group claims over-fishing, pollution, and climate change have all played a significant role in the decline of marine life.
“In the space of a single generation, human activity has severely damaged the ocean by catching fish faster than they can reproduce while also destroying their nurseries,” Marco Lambertini, head of WWF International, said in the report.
“Overfishing, destruction of marine habitats and climate change have dire consequences for the entire human population, with the poorest communities that rely on the sea getting hit fastest and hardest,” he warned. “Profound changes are needed to ensure abundant ocean life for future generations.”
Coral is now endangered, too.
The report warns that fish are not the only life affected: coral reefs, coastal mangrove forests and seagrasses that support fish species are all expected to experience a major decline in the future, as well.
A previous report from the group showed that half of all corals have already vanished, and they are all expected to be gone by 2050 if temperatures continue to rise at the same rate.
WWF’s analysis tracked 5,829 populations of 1,234 species – nearly twice as many as in its past studies, giving “a clearer, more troubling picture of ocean health.”
According to the report, one in four species of both sharks and rays is facing extinction, largely due to overfishing.
WWF called upon all global leaders to ensure that ocean recovery and coast habitat health figure high on the list of priorities when the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years are formally approved later this month.
“We must take this opportunity to support the ocean and reverse the damage while we still can.”
2015 by Amanda Froelich