Global marine populations slashed by half since 1970

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Populations of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have dropped by about half in the past four decades, with fish critical to human food suffering some of the greatest declines, the WWF warned on Wednesday.

In a new report, the conservation group cautioned that over-fishing, and had significantly shrunk the size of commercial fish stocks between 1970 and 2010.

WWF’s Living Blue Planet Report indicated that species essential to the global food supply, could be the hardest hit.

A humphead or Napoleon wrasse off the coast of South Ari Atoll Photo: Scubazoo/Barcroft

One family of fish that includes tuna and mackerel had declined 74 percent during the 40-year period, it found.

“In the space of a single generation, human activity has severely damaged the ocean by catching fish faster than they can reproduce while also destroying their nurseries,” Marco Lambertini, head of WWF International, said in a statement.

“Overfishing, destruction of marine habitats and climate change have dire consequences for the entire human population, with the poorest communities that rely on the sea getting hit fastest and hardest,” he warned.

“Profound changes are needed to ensure abundant ocean life for future generations,” he insisted.

A school of crescent-tail bigeye Photo: Scubazoo/Barcroft

Fish are not the only marine species that are suffering.

The WWF report shows there has also been a steep decline in coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses that support fish species – with more than one third of fish tracked for the study relying on coral reefs and some 850 million people around the world relying on them for their livelihoods.

A previous report from the group showed that half of all corals have already vanished, and they are all expected to be gone by 2050 if temperatures continue to rise at the same rate.

Great white circles boat off New York coast and feeds on whale Photo: YouTube / Michael Maiale

WWF’s analysis tracked 5,829 populations of 1,234 species – nearly twice as many as in its past studies, giving “a clearer, more troubling picture of ocean health”.

WWF called on global leaders to ensure that ocean recovery and coastal habitat health figure high on the list of priorities when the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years are formally approved later this month.

Ocean Giants: a close-up of a Blue whale underwater.

“We must take this opportunity to support the ocean and reverse the damage while we still can,” Lambertini said.

This article was first published by The Telegraph on 16 Sep 2015.


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Marilyn-Brian Ashman

And Ban all Netting, that's, trapping and killing all creatures underwater ! ( bycatch )

Maria Manuela Lopes

Is time for change.

Delbert Smith

Boloney, In 1970 we did not have the techknowlegy to inventory the oceans as we do today. We did not haveway other than to tag an fish to follow it with people.

This is just anothet of the twisted stories full of lies.

Michele Jankelow

How tragic that we are so greedy as a species that we are unable to balance our money craving for a fair existence with bountiful nature? Do we destroy it all and in turn ourselves?

Brenda Robinson

So the remedy I think is:
Ban plastic bags and plastic water bottles.
Confiscate and destroy boats used for illegal fishing.
Close polluting factories.
It's a start anyway. We have to do something now.