Marine Biodiversity: Alarming Decline In Populations Of Marine Vertebrates

First Posted: Sep 29, 2015 12:53 PM EDT

A recent report shows an alarming decline in marine biodiversity over the past several decades.

The WWF's Living Blue Planet Report noted that marine life, solely the vertebrates' population, has declined by an average of 49 percent from 1970 to 2012, with some of the fish species population going down by as much as 75 percent. These valuable services to the human population that also support marine food webs, including coral reefs, mangroves and sea-grasses, directly benefit 850 million from an economic, social and cultural standpoint. Yet unfortunately, human actions seem to be one of the biggest factors in their decline, with overfishing, habitat destruction and other issues contributing to the problem. 

The study highlights the necessity to protect critical marine and aquatic habitats, facilitating fish stocks in a more sustainable manner, while improving fishing practices and redirecting financial support systems to fund these initiatives. 

"The good news is there are abundant opportunities to reverse these trends," said Brad Ack, senior vice president for oceans at WWF, in a news release.

"Stopping black market fishing, protecting coral reefs, mangroves and other critical ocean habitats, and striking a deal in Paris to slash carbon pollution are all good for the ocean, the economy, and people. Now is the time for the US and other world players to lead on these important opportunities," Ack added.

The destruction of habitats, illegal fishing, overharvest and marine pollution are all areas that need support and investment from political leaders in order to prevent deterioration of the ocean's marine composition, researchers say. 

"The ocean is a renewable resource that can provide for all future generations if the pressures are dealt with effectively," said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International. "If we live within sustainable limits, the ocean will contribute to food security, livelihoods, economies and our natural systems."

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