Oceana has listed 10 key ocean issues that should be prioritised in 2016, and calls on decision-makers to set ambitious policies for tackling them. The international marine conservation organisation asks countries to walk the talk after having adopted the Paris Agreement at COP21, “noting how important it is to ensure the integrity of all ecosystems, including the oceans, as well as the protection of biodiversity”.
“The oceans are the primary source of life on earth but we continue to carelessly pillage their richness and compromise both their future and ours”, states Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “Oceana is sending a clear warning: problems created by humans can only be solved by humans. There are key actions that global leaders, decision makers, industry, and citizens can take in 2016 to start reversing the decline of our oceans.”
10 key actions for 2016 that could change the future of the oceans
1. Protect and manage vulnerable habitats and species. The world’s governments have agreed to protect 10% of the oceans by 2020 (UN Convention on Biological Diversity).
2. Catch no more than the sea can replenish. Think long-term: governments should manage fisheries sustainably and scientifically, and the general public should make appropriate, sustainable choices as consumers.
3. Avoid the killing of unwanted sea life. Improve the selectivity of fishing gear to reduce by-catches and discards.
4. End illegal fishing and make those who profit from it legally accountable. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing endangers not only the livelihoods of honest fishermen, but also threatened species and marine habitats, and makes it impossible to manage fish stocks properly.
5. Stand up for the deeps. Deep-sea habitats are home to vulnerable species that have few offspring and which can suffer irreversible losses due to destructive activities. They deserve protection.
6. Act against climate change. The oceans are becoming warmer and more acidic due to climate change. This forces species to migrate and invade other ecosystems and it kills both corals and shelled animals.The impact on coastal communities is unpredictable, but catastrophic under all possible scenarios.
7. Fight for a clean sea. Recycle and reuse to generate less rubbish and prevent it from getting into the sea. Waste is already found everywhere: from microplastics in fish to remains in deep, previously-unexplored areas.
8. Move over to clean energies. The oceans are a source of renewable energy (tides, waves, and wind), and in exchange receive spills of oil and fuels.
9. Invest more in marine research. We probably know more about space than we know about the oceans. We need a better understanding of how ecosystems work in order to better assess threats and act before it is too late. And not only that –thousands of species are yet to be discovered!
10. Raise awareness about the sea. The oceans are not just a footnote, they cover 71% of the planet’s surface. They should be at the heart of our policies and even our thoughts!