The newest report coming from the WWF, and titled ‘Living Blue Plant’ is not exaggerating with the addition of the noun ‘emergency’ preceding ‘report’.
Comprising the results of the most extensive study concerning marine vertebrates species, the emergency report contains dire forecasts and data on entire fish populations, seabirds populations, reptiles and marine mammals. What should worry us most is in only forty years, the marine vertebrate populations of the world have seen a 49 percent decline. For fish, the decline was calculated at a staggering 50 percent. Some fish species have seen a decline of 75 percent.
Tunas, bonitos and mackerels, as well as others in the scrombidae family have seen a decline of 74 percent in the period between 1970 and 2010. Coral reefs are in danger, marine wildlife is threatened by plastic pollution, rising levels of ocean acidity due to carbon sinking are putting a pressure on ecosystems and man-driven climate change is underpinning most of the causes of this rapid decline.
If it’s not climate change, the global rise of temperature, ocean water acidity, it’s overfishing, pollution, overexploitation and habitat destruction. The common denominator is human activity.
The WWF conducted their research by surveying over 33,038 marine species, including 10,000 populations worldwide. Estimations indicate that one in four shark species are on the brink of extinction, while one third of the fish stock’s face overfishing. Marco Lambertini, director-general of WWF International wrote in the emergency report:
“humanity is collectively mismanaging the ocean to the brink of collapse”.
The most alarming finding concerns the world’s fish stock, on which a number of populations rely as the main food source. Data collected on 230 populations of fish shows that the size of the breeding population reduced by 83 percent compared to historic levels. Too few of these recover, while the majority don’t show any sign of distress until it’s too late, approximately 15 years after a collapse occurred.
Fishing pressure, a key factor in the decline of these populations must be reduced. However, general trends show that it isn’t sufficient to do so. A more synergistic approach that includes considerate measures regarding how much fish is available, fisheries, fisheries management and overfishing must be found. And the private sector should lead the way.
Commercial fish stocks are unsurprisingly the most prone to populations decline due to overfishing. Secondly, national governments must step up and change the status-quo.
Professor John D. Reynolds of the Center for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia stated:
“Potentially permanent influences on species interactions, food web structure, and trophic dynamics are most dramatically reflected by staggering declines in the abundance of marine fishes.”
Perhaps the WWF ‘Living Blue Planet’ emergency report comes just in time to draw attention of the attendees at the UN Summit, New York meeting to discuss sustainable development.
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