Marine species provide indispensable ecosystem services. Plankton enrich the atmosphere with oxygen and more than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for sustenance and livelihoods. Marine and coastal resources and the industries they support are estimated to be worth at least US$3 trillion a year, some 5 per cent of global GDP.
Sustainably managing and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems are the objectives of Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Today, ocean life is under severe pressure, ranging from climate change to pollution, the loss of coastal habitats and the overexploitation of marine species. Some one-third of commercial fish stocks are overfished, and many other species – from albatrosses to turtles – are imperilled by the unsustainable use of ocean resources.
The good news is that solutions are available. For example, where fisheries are managed scientifically, most fish stocks have a good chance of recovery. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) is increasing regulation of marine species. And the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is engaged in crafting a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
On this World Wildlife Day, let us raise awareness about the extraordinary diversity of marine life and the crucial importance of marine species to sustainable development. That way, we can continue to provide these services for future generations.