Protecting marine life and ocean ecosystems is critical in ensuring a sustainable future for all life on Earth. Preserving healthy marine ecosystems – from microscopic organisms to the largest mammals that exist – ensures the survival of not only our species, but also the millions of animals that live on the planet. As overfishing, pollution, climate change, and ongoing human exploitation increasingly threatens this life-preserving resource, we find ourselves at a greater risk than ever before of mass extinction.
The world’s oceans are the largest ecosystems on Earth, supporting all life on the planet… including ours.
The intensifying issues caused by human encroachment and exploitation, are making marine conservation more important than ever before. Our ocean, and the multitude of life it supports, is at extreme risk. The ocean is one of Earth’s most valuable resources, covering a massive 71% of the planet’s surface. This global force of nature is our very life-support system, freely offering essentials for survival of all living species, from the food we eat to the oxygen we breathe.
Nations only began to prioritise marine conservation in the last few decades. Now studies reveal the devastating consequences of human impact on marine life through overexploitation and climate change. As a result, marine species populations are decreasing at a staggering rate. Species of whales, dolphins, manatees and dugongs, sea turtles, and sharks, amongst hundreds of others, are now listed as endangered. The unprecedented extinction rate of marine animals not only threatens the healthy function of marine ecosystems, but also affects larger, complex ecological issues.
Despite the immense challenges of global marine conservation, there are solutions to keeping our oceans healthy for future generations.
What are the impacts on the world’s oceans?
Studies on plastic pollution reveal that around 11 million metric tons of non-recyclable plastic pollute our oceans each year. This figure is estimated to triple by 2040, outweighing all the ocean’s fish. The mass of growing debris is so extreme, that the junk has formed five giant floating oceanic garbage patches around the world – the largest of these being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, covering an estimated area the size of Texas. Marine animals ingest the waste, ultimately causing horrific suffering, starvation and death. Not only that, but many of the fish we eat have ingested plastic that we in turn consume.
Addressing climate change is also vital if we are to save our seas. We urgently need to reduce carbon emissions to prevent global warming beyond 1.5°C (34.7°F). If not, scientists say over 70% of the ocean’s coral reefs will die. Warmer water affects the development and growth of marine life. It also threatens important fish migrations, in turn affecting feeding and spawning. Currents too are affected by climate change, which in turn threatens thousands of marine species which depend on currents to receive nutrition and disperse their eggs.
Protecting the ocean and all life that depends on it requires immediate and urgent action. Nations must enforce stringent measures and legislation to halt the destruction of the most important resource on Earth. We need to work together to conserve, protect and restore our oceans by tackling issues like overfishing, climate change, carbon emissions, pollution, habitat destruction and other forms of human exploitation.
What we do to protect marine life
At ASI we work to expose the issues at stake, raising awareness and calling into question activities that are impacting on the survival of ocean life. We tackle projects, provide support and create awareness to help change and improve activities that have a direct impact on marine animals. By adopting a solid stance on marine conservation, we seek to encourage countries, world leaders, businesses and communities to prioritise conserving ocean life.
An expanding human population is causing us to lose vital natural habitats through destruction and fragmentation at a rapid rate.
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