Oceans are the world’s seventh largest economy, says WWF

The Guardian reports, 22nd April 2015: “The monetary value of the world’s oceans has been estimated at US$24tn in a new report [WWF: Reviving The Ocean Economy: The Case For Action — 2015] that warns that overfishing, pollution and climate change are putting an unprecedented strain upon marine ecosystems.

The report, commissioned by WWF, states the asset value of oceans is $24tn and values the annual “goods and services” it provides, such as food, at $2.5tn.

‘The oceans are in a bad state that is rapidly getting worse. Fisheries are starting to collapse, there are record levels of pollution, such as plastic pollution, and there is climate change.’ Photograph: David Fleetham/naturepl.com/WWF

The oceans are in a bad state that is rapidly getting worse. Fisheries are starting to collapse, there are record levels of pollution, such as plastic pollution, and there is climate change.
Photograph: David Fleetham/naturepl.com/WWF

This economic clout would make the oceans the seventh largest economy in the world although the report’s authors, which include the Boston Consulting Group, say this is an underestimate as it does not factor in things such as oil, wind power and intangibles, such as the ocean’s role in climate regulation.

The economic value is largely comprised of fisheries, tourism, shipping lanes and the coastal protection provided by corals and mangroves.

However, the oceans are facing mounting pressures. They soak up around half of the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by human activity, a process that is warming the water and increasing the acidification of the ocean.

The report warns that nearly two-thirds of the world’s fisheries are “fully exploited” with most of the rest overexploited. The biological diversity of the oceans slumped by 39% between 1970 and 2010, while half of the world’s corals and nearly a third of its seagrasses have disappeared in this time. The report calls for eight key steps to revive the health of the oceans, including a stronger focus in UN agreements on oceans, deep cuts to emissions, at least 30% of marine areas to be protected by 2030 and greater action to tackle illegal fishing.

Source: The Guardian, 22nd April 2015. For the full text, see www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/23/oceans-are-worlds-seventh-largest-economy-worth-24tn-says-wwf-report


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