Ocean Assets Valued at $24 Trillion, but Dwindling Fast

A new report highlights the economic value of Earth's marine environments

fishing net

Our oceans are worth at least $24 trillion, according to a new WWF report Reviving the Ocean Economy: The case for action—2015. And goods and services from coastal and marine environments amount to about $2.5 trillion each year—that would put the ocean as the seventh largest economy in the world if put into terms of Gross Domestic Product.

The economic values listed in the new report are conservative, as outputs—such as wind energy—are not generated by the ocean, and were therefore excluded from the report. Valuable intangibles, such as the ocean’s role in climate regulation or production of oxygen, were also left out. Working with the Boston Consulting Group and the Global Change Institute, WWF developed this report to marry scientific evidence with potential impacts aligned with current trends, making it one of the first to produce an economic assessment of this kind.

“Oceans produce half the oxygen we breathe and absorb 30% of carbon dioxide emissions. ”

Reviving the Ocean Economy: The Case for Action
2015 WWF Report

More than two-thirds of the annual value of oceans relies on healthy conditions to maintain its current output. However, habitat destruction, overfishing, pollution, and climate change are endangering this economic engine and the security and livelihoods it supports. Marine resources are on a rapid decline and our oceans are changing faster than we have ever seen before.

“The oceans are our ‘natural capital’—a global savings account from which we keep making only withdrawals,” said Brad Ack, Senior Vice President for Oceans at WWF. “To continue this pattern leads one place: bankruptcy. It is time for significant reinvestment and protection of this global commons.”

The report identifies eight urgent, achievable actions that can help turn oceans around and allow it to continue to meet the essential needs of humanity and nature, ranging from taking global action to avoiding dangerous climate changes to driving international cooperation and investment for the oceans.

This year marks a unique opportunity for the future of our oceans, as international negotiations on climate change and sustainable development will soon to take place. In the days following the report release the US government takes a leadership role as Chair of the Arctic Council. Working with the 7 other Arctic member nations the U.S. may chart a path for a sustainable future, critical for the health of people, species, and a thriving global economy of marine goods and services

We need action for resilient oceans, so the marine ecosystems, wildlife and people they support can thrive in a changing climate. Speak out on climate change and our oceans today.

Read the report.