It is not just climate change that puts marine biodiversity at risk. The pressures exerted on marine ecosystems are diverse: fishing practices, coastal tourism, port development and polluting maritime transport, plastic and microplastic pollution.
All these threats have a detrimental impact on the whole marine ecosystem and the effects are visible already: destroyed habitats and the obvious decrease in marine species. As biodiversity declines, our ecosystems become more vulnerable.
With a focus on marine biodiversity, UNESCO provides us with some interesting facts and numbers:
- More than 90% of habitable space on the planet consists of ocean.
- Only 1% of the area of the ocean and adjacent seas are protected compared to about 12% of the earth’s land surface.
- If the concentration of atmospheric CO2 continues to rise at the current rate, the ocean will become corrosive for the shells of many marine organisms.
- The acidification of the ocean could turn the majority of the ocean’s regions inhospitable to coral reefs, affecting tourism, food safety, the protection of the coastline and biodiversity.
- Oceanic acidification threatens plankton which is essential for the livelihood of larger fish.
- In 2100, more than half of the world’s marine species could be on the brink of extinction if significant changes are not made.
- 60% of the world’s main marine ecosystems have been damaged or are being used unsustainably.
- It is estimated that between 30 to 35% of the global extension of critical marine habitats, such as seagrass beds and coral reefs, have been destroyed.
Source: Euronews + UNESCO