WWF's Living Blue Planet Report takes a deep look at the health of our oceans and the impact of human activity on marine life. A new report on the health of the ocean finds that the marine vertebrate population has declined by 49 percent between 1970 and 2012. 

WWF's Living Blue Planet Report analysis tracked 5,829 populations of 1,234 species, making the data sets almost twice as large as past studies and giving a clearer, more troubling picture of ocean health.

The updated study of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish shows that populations have been reduced on average by half globally in the last four decades, with some fish declining by close to 75%. The latest findings, analyzed by researchers at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), paints a troubling picture. The deforestation rate of mangroves exceeds even the loss of forests by 3-5 times; coral reefs could be lost across the globe by 2050; and almost one-third of all seagrasses have been lost.

"The ocean is an integral part of our lives. We are kept alive by the clean air, food and other services it provides. More than that, we are simply drawn to the ocean and its wildlife, whether a trip to the seaside or an encounter with the penguins at the ZSL London Zoo. This report suggests that billions of animals have been lost from the world's oceans in my lifetime alone. This is a terrible and dangerous legacy to leave to our grandchildren," worries Ken Norris, Director of Science at ZSL.

"Europe is surrounded by oceans and seas; they are some of the most precious natural resources we can count on. Our economy, our climate, our diets are determined by the oceans and marine life. Science clearly shows that oceans are reaching their limits and this should be a wake-up call for all if we want future generations to live in a healthy planet," said Geneviève Pons-Deladrière, Director of WWF European Policy Office.

But luckily the ocean is avoidable and solutions do exist to turn the tide. "If we live within sustainable limits, the ocean will contribute to food security, livelihoods, economies and our natural systems. The equation is that simple. We must take this opportunity to support the ocean and reverse the damage while we still can," are optimistic thoughts of Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

WWF is working with governments, businesses and communities to encourage leaders to take urgent measures to support the ocean and protect the well-being and livelihoods of billions of people around the world. You can also speak up for ocean here. Oceans need your help. Together we can make a difference.

Why are oceans important to Europe?

  • The European Union has 66.000 km of coastline.
  • Tourism plays an important role for Europe and the global economy. In the EU, tourism is the third-largest socio-economic sector (according to UNWTO). In general, 80% of all tourism is based near the sea.
  • The EU is the major consumption market and the largest importer of seafood products in the world, making up 24% of the total value of world trade (According to the European Commission's report "The EU fish Market 2014").
  • In the North Atlantic Ocean, which has an important impact to the economy and well-being of many countries in Europe, the WWF Living Blue Planet report shows that 72% of deep-sea fish populations have declined over the last 40 years. The index for deep-sea fish populations for the North Atlantic is based on 77 populations of 25 species.
  • Globally, more than 90 fish species are on the brink of extinction. In addition, nearly 1/3 of fish population trends that could be assessed were found to be in decline.
  • Overfishing continues to be one of the big causes of marine degradation. 29% of global fish stocks are overfished. Only in the Mediterranean Sea, 93% of assessed stocks are overexploited.

Sept. 17, 2015 Living photo: Profimedia

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