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Living Green - It's happening; a critical threshold has been reached.
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Friday, September 18, 2015
You can't poison, pollute and harvest the world's oceans forever without there being consequences. Granted, the oceans are vast, covering almost three-quarters of the Earth's surface, so consequences are slow in coming, but they are inevitable.
A new study by the World Wildlife Fund has reported that fully half of marine life has been killed off in the last four decades.
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"In the space of a single generation, human activity has severely damaged the ocean by catching fish faster than they can reproduce," Marco Lambertini, head of WWF International, said in a statement. "Profound changes are needed to ensure abundant ocean life for future generations."
Species essential to global food supply -- especially in poorer nations where fish provide essential dietary protein -- were among the hardest hit, the conservation group's Living Blue Planet Report said.
The family of fish that includes tuna and mackerel, for example, has declined by three quarters since 1970.
Fish are not the only marine organisms in steep decline, the report found. Large swathes of coral reef, mangroves and sea grasses have died off or been hacked away.
This loss has decimated fish populations and, in turn, imperiled some 850 million people who depend directly on these ecosystems for their livelihoods.
Doubling previous samplings, the joint WWF and Zoological Society of London analysis tracked 5,829 populations of 1,234 species for an updated, "more troubling" picture of ocean health.
At the same time that the volume of marine life is diminishing, so too is the number of species, both in the ocean and on land, other research has shown.
Fifty percent is a critical threshold for loss of marine life, Cury said of the findings.
"When you go below 50 percent, ecosystems begin to malfunction," he said.
WWF called on world leaders to prioritize ocean recovery when the United Nations' 15-year Sustainable Development Goals are approved later this month.
The report said protected global ocean area -- currently about 3.4 percent -- should be tripled by 2020. It also called on consumers and fish retailers to source from companies that follow certified "best practice" standards.
"These changes are happening in our lifetime," Lambertini said. "We can and we must correct course now."
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