A resilient ocean sustains marine life and functioning ecosystems that support rich biodiversity, food security and sustainable livelihoods
Why It Matters
Regulating Global Climate
Our ocean plays a crucial role in keeping the planet’s temperature balanced and driving weather, such as rainfall and winds. Unfortunately, it's also absorbed most of the planet’s warming—over 90%—and a significant amount of our carbon pollution as a result of human-caused climate change. Warmer ocean waters are driving stronger storms and bleaching coral reefs. As the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, it becomes more acidic, threatening most shelled organisms, including small crustaceans that are fundamental to the marine food chain.
The ocean is a lifeline for people around the world, generating at least $2.5 trillion worth of products and services each year. Fishing alone supports more than 260 million jobs. Only a healthy ocean can keep this economic engine running.
Seafood is the major source of protein for roughly 1.5 billion people. But according to the UN Food & Agriculture Organization, one out of every three assessed wild fish populations have been harvested beyond their limit and cannot handle the pressure that would come from adding more boats, nets, or poles. There are also regions with little enforcement of rules where the most destructive fishing practices continue to damage habitats and ecosystems, as well as the marine life that calls them home.
Scientists estimate more than 2 million species live in ocean waters and nine out of 10 haven’t been fully identified. The Marine Living Planet Index recorded a 36% overall decline in the abundance of vertebrate marine life between 1970 and 2012. Unsustainable fishing is the primary direct threat to marine wildlife, followed by habitat degradation, which can also include a loss of food sources.
What WWF Is Doing
- Michele Kuruc Vice President, Ocean Policy
- Leigh Henry Director, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Conservation
- Margaret Williams Managing Director, Arctic Program
- Lauren Spurrier Vice President, Ocean Conservation
- Elisabeth Kruger Senior Program Officer, Arctic Wildlife
- Linwood Pendleton Global Oceans Lead Scientist, Global Science
- Dave Aplin Director of Education and Outreach, Arctic Field Program
- Gabby Ahmadia Director, Marine Conservation Science, Oceans
- Alison Cross Director, Fishery Sustainability
- David K. Schorr Senior Manager, Transparent Seas