The ocean sustains life on earth. It provides half the oxygen we breathe, has absorbed a quarter of our carbon emissions, supports the livelihoods of over three billion people and puts food on our plates.
But the ocean is in trouble. There’s more plastic in the ocean than ever before – by 2050 it’s predicted there will be more plastic than fish! Pollution is causing ‘dead zones’, climate change is warming the ocean making it increasingly acidic, overfishing is putting species dangerously at risk and ecosystems are being pushed beyond their limit.
Despite covering 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface, only three per cent of the ocean is currently under some form of protection, and much of the remaining 97 per cent suffers from poor management. There is also so much we still don’t know – the ocean is probably the least understood and most biologically diverse of all of Earth’s ecosystems with millions of species yet to be discovered.
But it’s not too late. We can change the tide. The ocean is incredibly resilient and it could recover, but only if we all play our part. Studies have shown that creating marine protected areas have multiple positive effects – they result in higher fish populations, larger fish, and greater biodiversity both within the reserve and beyond, due to the “spill-over” effect.