The world’s oceans are worth at least $24 trillion according to a recent report by the published by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). On the flip side, the overall economic value is threatened by pollution, climate change and overexploitation.
The WWF sought to appraise the world’s oceans and the economic impact it provides taking into consideration a wide range of goods and services provided they provide ranging from fishing to the protection they provide against coastal storms. By working with The Boston Consulting Group and the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, the WWF came up with the overall asset value and an annual dividend output (comparable to a nation’s gross domestic product).
When compared against the 10 biggest economies in the world, oceans would occupy seventh place with an estimated at $2.5 trillion annual output. The study titled “Reviving the Ocean Economy: The Case for Action” notes that at the current rate of ocean warming, coral reefs will disappear completely by 2050.
“The ocean rivals the wealth of the world’s richest countries, but it is being allowed to sink to the depths of a failed economy,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International. “As responsible shareholders, we cannot seriously expect to keep recklessly extracting the ocean’s valuable assets without investing in its future.”
According to the report, more than two-thirds of the annual value of the ocean relies on healthy conditions to maintain its annual economic output. Collapsing fisheries, mangrove deforestation as well as disappearing corals and seagrass are threatening the marine economic engine that secures lives and livelihoods around the world.
Another major cause for the ocean’s decline is over-exploitation, with 90% of global fish stocks either over-exploited or fully exploited. The Pacific bluefin tuna population alone has dropped by 96% from unfished levels.
The report puts forth many urgent measures as steps to combat climate change including 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 ocean feeds us, employs us, and supports our health and well-being, yet we are allowing it to collapse before our eyes. If everyday stories of the ocean’s failing health don’t inspire our leaders, perhaps a hard economic analysis will. We have serious work to do to protect the ocean starting with real global commitments on climate and sustainable development,” said Lambertini.