WASHINGTON – Oceans are worth at least $24 trillion, but their economic value is threatened by pollution, climate change and overexploitation, according to a report published by the World Wide Fund for Nature, or WWF.
Working with The Boston Consulting Group and the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, WWF appraised the oceans’ value based on the goods and services they provide, from fishing to the protection against coastal storms, reaching an overall asset value and an annual dividend output (comparable to a nation’s gross domestic product).
Compared with the world’s 10 biggest economies, oceans would occupy seventh place with output of goods and services estimated at $2.5 trillion annually, the report said.
“Our oceans are the planet’s natural capital, a ‘factory’ producing an incredible array of goods and services that we all want and need,” said Brad Ack, senior vice president for oceans at WWF.
“But every day we are degrading, over-consuming, and polluting this productive asset to a point of ever diminishing returns.”
The study titled “Reviving the Ocean Economy: The Case for Action” said that at the current rate of ocean warming coral reefs will disappear completely by 2050.
“More than just warming waters, climate change is inducing increased ocean acidity that if unchecked will take thousands of years for the ocean to repair,” the report said.
Overexploitation is another major cause of the deterioration of the oceans, with 90 percent of globally monitored fish stocks either overexploited or fully exploited.
By way of example, the report mentions a 96 percent decrease in the Pacific Bluefin tuna population from previous levels
Among urgent measures proposed by the report are steps to combat climate change, the incorporation of ocean recovery within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and the establishment of strong commitments to protect coastal and marine areas.
“The oceans are our global savings account from which we keep making only withdrawals,” Ack said.
“To continue this pattern leads to only one place - bankruptcy. It is time for significant reinvestment and protection of this global commons.”