The ocean puts food on the table and underpins trillions of dollars of economic activity worldwide. It does all this freely. But not for long. The ocean is heading for a collapse.

Because the ocean belongs to everyone – and to no one – too many have taken too much. Centuries of overuse and neglect threaten to leave us with a vast blue desert. It is time to change the way we see the ocean – from a place where we take what we want and dump what we don’t, to a shared resource of immense value.

WWF is working to generate a new wave of support for sustainable seas. We will show leaders how a healthy ocean fosters economic development. We will celebrate and scale up the work of coastal and fishing communities to protect the resources they depend on. And we’ll give everyone the opportunity to speak out for our blue planet. Join us.

Bajau Laut children living on land in Sibuan Island, Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia. © Jürgen Freund / WWF

Coral Reefs

With their jewel hues and dazzling diversity of shapes and sizes, coral reefs are natural eye candy. And that’s beauty with a purpose: Worldwide, reefs provide livelihoods, food and tourism estimated to be worth nearly a trillion dollars each year.

© Troy Mayne

Food

The ocean has been a source of food for tens of thousands of years. Today, fisheries are an important source of protein for billions of people.

© Meridith Kohut / WWF-US

Biodiversity

Covering 71% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean includes a wondrous array of habitats and species – from tiny plankton to the largest creature on Earth, the blue whale. And it’s all connected. When links in the food chain are broken anywhere, the system is weakened everywhere.

© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF

Livelihoods

The ocean freely provides products and services worth at least $2.5 trillion a year. Fisheries support more than 260 million jobs – 50 million of which are small-scale or subsistence in places where other work could be very hard to find.

© Meridith Kohut / WWF-US

Coasts

Roughly half the world's population lives within 100 kilometres of the sea, and three-quarters of all large cities are located on the coast. But damage done to reefs and mangroves in the name of development puts those communities and cities at risk.

© James Morgan / WWF-US

Habitat
Destruction

© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF

People destroy fragile marine habitats in multiple ways, from small scale to large. Whether it’s harmful fishing gear or pollution from inland farms and cities, such destruction is the result of putting short-term gain over our long-term well-being.

Governance

© Anthony B. Rath / WWF

The story of the ocean is a tragedy of the commons. Individuals – whether people, companies or nations – have put their own interests above those of their neighbour. Strong governance at all levels, from local tradition to international treaty, is needed urgently.

Climate
change

© naturepl.com / Peter Scoones / WWF

As the atmosphere has warmed, so has the ocean. This can affect the way nutrients move through the water, disrupt weather patterns and increase storm intensity. The ocean has also absorbed about 30% of the carbon dioxide humans have added to the atmosphere, making it more acidic. This spells trouble for coral reefs, the ocean’s most diverse ecosystem.

Over-fishing

© AFMA

With 90% of fish stocks fully exploited or significantly depleted, we must act fast to ease the pressure. Yet the opposite seems to be happening. Faced with the collapse of high-value fisheries, the industry is moving down the food chain and into more remote areas. Poor policies and perverse subsidies support these destructive activities.

Coastal
development

© Global Warming Images / WWF

Coastal areas are the most densely populated on Earth. Whether for permanent residents or tourists, coastal development too often means destruction of mangroves, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. Ironically, the loss of this natural infrastructure makes coasts more vulnerable to erosion and storm damage, and diminishes what attracts people to these areas in the first place.

Solutions

We know what needs to be done

If we restore the balance, the ocean can contribute to food security, livelihoods, a healthy climate and more. The solutions exist — now it’s time for action.

Reports

New Report: Reviving Melanesia’s Ocean Economy

Melanesia is a major part of the Pacific and its people have relied on the ocean for millennia but as human impacts build, locally and globally, can the ocean sustain this growing region? This report finds that Melanesia’s ocean economy is one of the main economic drivers in the region and describes the major role the ocean plays in providing food, livelihoods and well-being. As multiple pressures combine to threaten the ocean assets that deliver so much for the region, the report outlines clear steps for Melanesia to urgently translate commitments into scaled-up action to achieve a sustainable and inclusive blue economy and a healthy future.

Reviving the Ocean Economy

The value of the ocean’s riches rivals the size of the world’s leading economies, but its resources are rapidly eroding.

Reviving the Ocean Economy: The case for action – 2015, analyses the ocean’s role as an economic powerhouse and outlines the threats that are moving it toward collapse.

But it is not too late to reverse the troubling trends and ensure a healthy ocean that benefits people, business and nature. This report presents an eight-point action plan that would restore ocean resources to their full potential.

Living Blue Planet Report: Species, habitats and human well-being

This report provides the most accurate picture of the state of the ocean--and the results are not good. We have lost half the fish populations that we rely on in less than half a century. The findings spell trouble for all nations, but will especially impact people in the developing world who rely on seafood for their daily diets and economic livelihoods.

MARINE PROTECTED AREAS: SMART INVESTMENTS IN OCEAN HEALTH

Human lives depend on marine ecosystems that are healthy, resilient and productive. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an essential tool in the recovery and protection of our ocean and the vital services it provides.

Stories

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MEDITERRANEAN

Fishermen hold the key to a healthy sea

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TURKEY

Making tourism work for nature

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SOUTH AFRICA

Salt water in our veins

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THE PHILIPPINES

Farming leopards at sea

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA

People of the Wind Nation

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AUSTRALIA

Better choices at the Great Barrier Reef

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CHILE

A 'dignified man' struggles against black market fishing

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MALAYSIA

Rich with good intentions

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THE PHILIPPINES

A hunt for marine treasure

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MOZAMBIQUE

Crafting a new kind of marine sanctuary

 

Read more marine stories on ecological.panda.org

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