FunNature & AnimalMarine life will be able to recover by 2050

Marine life will be able to recover by 2050

It is an open secret that the planet’s oceans are in a very precarious state: pollution, overfishing, climate change and other negative factors associated with humans (such as the oil spill) are transforming our precious oceans at such a daunting rate that its inhabitants cannot cope with them. We have been exploiting them for centuries, although our brand has been deepening for approximately 50 years. The result is a drop in fish populations, coral reef bleaching and a palpable reduction in biodiversity, as documented in 2019 by the annual report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Fortunately, it is not too late to fix it.

An international team of researchers from 16 universities and institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, affirms that humanity is at a point where it must choose whether to leave future generations a resilient and vibrant ocean or one “irreversibly disturbed”.

Experts have established a roadmap of actions necessary for the planet’s marine life to fully recover in 30 years, based on previous conservation efforts. Thus, protecting species, restoring habitats, reducing pollution and mitigating the worst of climate change by reducing global greenhouse gas emissions are some of the important tasks that lie ahead.

It will require a substantial effort on the part of all

Conservation efforts are bearing fruit and could help to recover damage to ecosystems, if applied on a larger scale, as the great resilience of these ecosystems has been demonstrated, despite the damage that occurred during the 20th century. While the task is extremely ambitious and fraught with major obstacles, the study, published in Nature , shows that a full recovery is possible if action is taken globally.


Recovery of the seas

The report concludes that the number of humpback whales, which were close to extinction in the 1960s, has rebounded since the ban on commercial whaling and the proportion of marine species assessed as threatened with global extinction by the IUCN has dropped from 18% in 2000 to 11.4% in 2019.

Gray seal populations have also increased by 1,410% in eastern Canada and southern sea otters have grown from a few dozen individuals to several thousand since 1911. Green turtles have also increased their nesting populations by 4 -14% per year, according to some estimates. But there’s still a lot to do.


What are the solutions?

The researchers identified nine components that are key to rebuilding the oceans: salt marshes, mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs, seaweed, oyster beds, fishing, megafauna and deep ocean. In them, it is necessary to focus on six types of interventions (or “recovery wedges”): protecting species, making wise and rational uses, protecting spaces, mitigating climate change, restoring habitats and reducing pollution.

If we do, “it shows that the abundance of marine life can be recovered within one human generation, two to three decades, by 2050,” says Duarte.

It is a great challenge that would involve not only meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement but also regulating hunting, poaching, overfishing and greater regulation of the industries that exploit the depths of the sea. It is a great challenge, but this work suggests that the complicated situation of the ocean may not be as desperate as it seems.

We have a small opportunity to leave a healthy ocean for our grandchildren’s generation , and we have the knowledge and tools to do so. We cannot condemn our grandchildren to a shattered ocean without high-quality livelihoods; it is not an option. “clarifies Carlos Duarte, from the Red Sea Research Center of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.


Referencia: Rebuilding marine life, Nature (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2146-7 ,

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