Failing fisheries and poor ocean health starving human food supply – tide must turn: WWF Living Blue Planet Report 2015

New Delhi, 16 September 2015: Populations of fish critical to human food security are in serious decline worldwide with some at risk of collapse according to the emergency edition of a WWF report released today. WWF’s Living Blue Planet Report finds that much of the activity threatening the ocean is avoidable and solutions do exist to turn the tide.

The updated study of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish shows that populations have been reduced on average by half globally in the last four decades, with some fish declining by close to 75 percent. The latest findings spell trouble for all nations, including India.

According to Vinod Maliyalethu, WWF India’s marine programme coordinator, “The marine ecosystem in India is under huge pressures from overfishing, overcapacity, as well as non selective fishing methods.  Poor enforcement of fisheries regulations as well as those related to coastal development and pollution are contributing to the depletion of our marine resources and degradation of the marine ecosystem. There is a pressing need to put in place a strong conservation strategy for the sustainable management of our coastal and marine ecosystems”.

“Millions of fishers in the developing world depend on fisheries for their livelihoods from the earth’s largest ecosystem.   It is essential that we urgently put in place a conservation strategy that ensures fish-for-all-forever and clean habitats in our seas” said Sunil Mohamed, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi

To reverse the downward trend, global leaders must ensure that ocean recovery and coastal habitat health feature strongly in the implementation of the UN’s sustainable development goals that will be formally approved later this month.

“We urgently published this report to provide the most current picture of the state of the ocean,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International. “In the space of a single generation, human activity has severely damaged the ocean by catching fish faster than they can reproduce while also destroying their nurseries. Profound changes are needed to ensure abundant ocean life for future generations.”

Research in the WWF report indicates that species essential to commercial and subsistence fishing – and therefore global food supply – may be suffering the greatest declines. Underscoring the severe drop in commercial fish stocks, the report details the dramatic loss of 74 per cent of the family of popular food fish that includes tunas, mackerels and bonitos.

The report shows a decline of 49 per cent of marine populations between 1970 and 2012. The analysis tracked 5,829 populations of 1,234 species, making the data sets almost twice as large as past studies and giving a clearer, more troubling picture of ocean health. Over one-third of fish tracked by the report rely on coral reefs, and these species show a dangerous decline of 34 per cent between 1979 and 2010.

While over-exploitation is identified as the major threat to ocean biodiversity, the study finds that climate change is causing the ocean to change more rapidly than at any other point in millions of years. Rising temperatures and increasing acidity levels caused by carbon dioxide aggravate the negative impacts of overfishing and other major threats including habitat degradation and pollution.

“The Living Blue Planet Report details opportunities for governments, businesses and communities to secure a living ocean”, said Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India. “Measures to preserve the world’s oceans include preserving and rebuilding natural marine capital, wiser consumption and prioritizing sustainability.”

About WWF- India:

WWF-India is one of India’s leading conservation organizations with programmes and projects spread across the country. The organization works towards the conservation of biodiversity, natural habitats and the reduction of humanity’s ecological footprint. The mission of WWF-India is tostop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature

For more details, kindly contact:

Vinod Maliyalethu

Senior Coordinator, WWF Marine Conservation Programme

Phone: 0944729072809447290728 , +91 484 6562760+91 484 6562760

Email: vinodm@wwfindia.net

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