Oceans worth US$24 tril., but sea change needed to save them: WWF


The world’s oceans are awash in riches, with out­put ri­val­ing that of some of the world’s largest economies, but over-fish­ing, pol­lu­tion and cli­mate change are rapidly erod­ing those re­sources, WWF warned Thurs­day.

In a new re­port, the con­ser­va­tion group said oceans each year gen­er­ate goods and ser­vices worth at least US$2.5 tril­lion, while their over­all value as an as­set is worth 10 times that.

If oceans were a na­tion, they would con­sti­tute the world’s sev- enth largest econ­omy, rank­ing just af­ter Bri­tain but ahead of the likes of Brazil, Rus­sia and In­dia, WWF said.

Their es­ti­mated as­set value of US$24 tril­lion would mean­while dwarf the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, in Nor­way, which holds just US$893 bil­lion, it said.

The 60-page re­port, “Re­viv­ing the Ocean Econ­omy,” mean­while stressed that those es­ti­mates were clearly an un­der­es­ti­mate, since they do not in­clude off­shore oil and gas and wind en­ergy or “in­tan­gi­bles such as the ocean’s role in cli­mate reg­u­la­tion.”

“The ocean ri­vals the wealth of the world’s rich­est coun­tries, but it is be­ing al­lowed to sink to the depths of a failed econ­omy,” WWF chief Marco Lam­ber­tini warned in a state­ment.

Thurs­day’s re­port, pro­duced in co­op­er­a­tion with Queens­land Uni­ver­sity’s Global Change In­sti­tute and the Bos­ton Con­sult­ing Group, in­di­cated that oceans are chang­ing more rapidly to­day than at any other point in mil­lions of years.

‘Se­ri­ous signs of fail­ing health’

Col­laps­ing fish­eries, man­grove de­for­esta­tion and dis­ap­pear­ing corals and sea­grass are among the changes that are threat­en­ing the liveli­hoods of hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple.

A full two thirds of the eco­nomic value gen­er­ated by oceans de­pends on healthy ocean con­di­tions, the re­port said.

But un­for­tu­nately oceans are “show­ing se­ri­ous signs of fail­ing health,” it said.

The statis­tics are fright­en­ing — some 90 per­cent of global fish stocks are al­ready over-ex­ploited or fully ex­ploited, and marine species de­clined by 39 per­cent be­tween 1970 and 2010, it said.

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