Nations need to unite to save the oceans

By Agi Veres
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 10, 2015
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As the cradle of life, the oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth's surface and play a vital role in national and global economic survival. They drive the ecosystems that make the Earth habitable, and yet are now under severe strain that we cannot afford to ignore.

In China, the Gross Ocean Product (GOP) accounted for 9.4% of GDP in 2014, in total, meaning worth of nearly 6 trillion yuan. According to a report from its State Oceanic Administration (SOA), the oceans have a total worth of $24 trillion, and the marine environment's goods and services could reach $2.5 trillion per year.

Unprecedented population growth and expanding urbanization, however, have encouraged more than three billion people in the world to live their lives close to the seas. Nowadays, it is estimated that three out of seven people on Earth depend on maritime resources for their livelihood.

According to China's Ocean Development Report 2015, more than 15% of China's coastal water are now worse than grade IV, which indicates water quality unsuitable for direct human contact - drinking or swimming. The discharge of industrial and domestic waste, the extensive use of chemical fertilizers on the land, over-exploration of marine resources, an unsustainable marine culture, as well as other activities, are all major threats to stability and sustainability.

These problems are not unique to China. Ocean degradation has become a universal phenomenon. During the past 45 years, the number of marine species has fallen nearly 50%, mainly due to over-fishing and climate change. The problem of ocean acidification is becoming more prominent as greenhouse gas emissions increase and ocean dead zones are growing through to lower oxygen levels in the water due to increasing pollution.

Researchers have warned us that more than two-thirds of the annual value created by the ocean depends on maintaining their healthy condition, and the asset base has been diminishing rapidly due to the degeneration of the global marine environment.

No nation can ignore this global issue, nor can one nation fight this battle alone, due to the interconnected nature of oceans. Collective action by states, as well as negotiation of legal and institutional frameworks, are now of critical importance to ensure sustainable development and utilization of marine resources, and to successfully protect the marine environment.

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