The ocean, connected over approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface, supports humankind. Human well-being and our economy have benefited from the ocean for oxygen to breathe, fish and seafood to eat, leisure and healing places to visit, seaways for transportation, and the many jobs associated with ocean activities. However, unregulated and excessive human activities and recent climate change are causing the deterioration of the marine environment, reducing biodiversity and threatening its ecosystem services. Key areas of concern include:
- A healthy ocean is indispensable to human well-being and vitality and to the homeostasis of life on Earth. Ocean health is threatened by excessive human activities and has already been compromised on many levels. Facilitation of holistic ocean sciences and cooperation of diverse stakeholders are needed to understand complex processes in the marine environment and to implement solutions to protect and restore ocean health.
- The world’s oceans are experiencing extensive habitat destruction due to both direct impacts (e.g. coastal development) and indirect impacts (e.g. climate change, invasive species, pollution). In particular, coastal areas, including coral reefs, kelp forests, mangroves, seagrass beds and intertidal mudflats, have suffered from massive habitat degradation and loss. This destruction increasingly extends to the deep sea. Multiple anthropogenic stressors damage ecosystem structure and function, as well as the capacity for marine habitats to provide ecosystem services. Most of these sensitive habitats are in need of immediate measures for protection, conservation and rehabilitation.
- Anthropogenic environmental contaminants continue to disrupt marine ecosystems. Accumulation of excessive nutrients, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and marine debris including macro-, micro- and nano-plastics, destabilizes ecological processes, degrades natural resources and inflicts major economic losses. Strict controls for the management of environmental contaminants should be implemented immediately.
- The ocean regulates the Earth’s climate and provides a buffer to climate change. In return, the marine environment is subject to adverse effects of climate change. Ocean warming causes sea level rise, loss of dissolved oxygen, redistribution and alteration of marine life, and intensification of heatwaves and tropical cyclones. Excessive carbon dioxide emissions also cause ocean acidification. Interdisciplinary research on the ocean and the atmosphere and development of new management strategies will help mitigate and adapt to climate change.
- Marine fisheries are important contributors to human food and nutritional security. Over-exploitation of world fisheries is causing a rapid decline of fisheries resources. To meet current and future food requirements of the growing human population the recovery of depleted fish stocks through the implementation of extensive no take zones together with sustainable aquaculture production are needed
Click here to download the full IAP Statement on Protection of Marine Environments, read the press release and discover the infographic.