Increasing pressures, such as overfishing, pollution, climate change and habitat loss are all having devastating effects on the ocean and the marine wildlife it supports. Globally some 90% of large fish species, such as sharks, tuna and swordfish, have disappeared in the last few decades. 28 species of mammals and fish are classified as threatened in UK seas alone and only 11 of the 58 main fish stocks found around the British Isles are known to be in a healthy state. Many marine habitats, ranging from the species-rich rocky reefs of Europe and the coral reefs of the tropics, to the fragile seamounts of the deep sea, have been fundamentally altered by destructive fishing practices and other human activities.
International scientific and conservation experts have warned that the combined effects of multiple stressors on the ocean will have devastating and irreversible consequences for the marine environment (International Earth system expert workshop on ocean stresses and impacts). If we don’t address the problems, we could be facing the next globally significant extinction event – we risk losing entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within the next generation unless we act now.
The longer action is delayed, the less chance there is of recovery.