A Natural Treasury Under Man-Made Threats
By TOI Desk Report November 7, 2023 Update on : November 7, 2023
Marine biodiversity is under the greatest threat in today’s world, all thanks to inconsiderate human activities. Starting from overfishing to pollution, the adverse effects of human activities on the waterbodies are significant, leading to the declining living quality of the place, which is home to aquatic creatures.
Marine biodiversity refers to the variety of life in our oceans, including fish, corals, plankton, and other organisms.
Marine biodiversity is important for several reasons. First, it helps keep the ocean ecosystem healthy, which is essential for human life and natural balance as organisms around the world rely on the ocean for food, water, and oxygen. Additionally, marine biodiversity helps to protect us from the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. It is also an important contributor to regulating and maintaining the Earth’s climate.
We must work to protect marine biodiversity for the sake of both the ocean ecosystem and ourselves. This can be done by reducing our impact on the oceans, such as by reducing our consumption of seafood, preventing pollution, and protecting important marine habitats.
Some say the ocean is a vast, dark, and dangerous place. While that might be true, it’s also one of the most incredible places on Earth. With more than 70% of the earth’s surface covered in water, the ocean is home to incredible species, both explored and unexplored.
From the smallest microscopic organisms to the largest mammals on earth, the ocean is teeming with life. And that’s not even considering the plants and corals that make up the underwater landscape. It’s estimated that there are more than one million different species living in the ocean, and that’s just the ones we know about.
Each of these species has a unique role to play in the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem. However, the balance has been under threat for a long time as humans continue to encroach and pollute these gigantic waterbodies.
The ocean is a complicated and interconnected system, and each species plays a role in keeping it functioning. For example, bottom-dwelling fish help keep the water clean by eating debris and excreting waste. This, in turn, benefits the coral and other marine life that need clean water to thrive.
Similarly, large predators help keep populations of other animals in check. This keeps the ecosystem in balance and prevents any one species from becoming too dominant.
However, human activity is now the biggest threat to marine biodiversity, as overfishing, pollution, and climate change are all having a devastating impact on the world’s oceans. As a result, many species are struggling to survive.
Marine biodiversity is not just important for the health of the ocean but also for the wellbeing of our planet. The ocean regulates our climate, provides us with food and oxygen, and is a source of medication and other resources. We depend on the ocean for our survival. Thus, it’s imperative that we do everything we can to protect it.
The first step is to educate ourselves about the importance of marine biodiversity and the threats it faces.
The role of marine biodiversity
Marine biodiversity is not only important for the environment and the economy but also for our health. The marine environment is a major source of food and medication for humans. According to the World Health Organization, seafood is the primary source of protein for more than one billion people around the world.
As the world’s population continues to grow, so does the demand for seafood. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, global per capita fish consumption was 20.2 kg in 2014, and it is expected to reach 23.6 kg by 2030. With the demand for seafood on the rise, it is more important than ever to protect and preserve our marine resources.
One of the most important reasons to protect marine biodiversity is that it helps to ensure the sustainability of our seafood supply. A healthy and diverse marine ecosystem is more productive and resilient and can better withstand environmental changes and human impacts. For example, a study in the journal Science found that biodiversity loss in the North Sea has led to a decrease in the productivity of fisheries.
The loss of biodiversity can lead to imbalances in the ecosystem, which can in turn cause problems such as water pollution and the spread of invasive species. A healthy marine ecosystem is vital for the well-being of both the environment and the human beings that depend on it.
In addition to being a food source, the ocean is also a major source of medication. Marine organisms have been used to develop treatments for a variety of diseases and conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
With so many different reasons to protect marine biodiversity, it is clear that it is a vital part of our world, and there is no alternative to protecting it if we want our future generations to reap the same benefits.
The fragility of marine biodiversity
The fragility of marine biodiversity was highlighted in 2016 when a mass die-off of bleached coral was reported across the Great Barrier Reef. This was the worst bleaching event in history, underscoring the vulnerability of coral reefs to climate change.
While corals are extremely resilient and can recover from bleaching events, they are also very sensitive to small changes in water temperature. A rise of just a few degrees can cause bleaching, which leads to the death of coral.
Coral reefs are home to a huge diversity of aquatic life, and their health is essential to the ocean’s ecosystem. The loss of coral reefs would be a devastating blow to the planet and would lead to the extinction of many species of fish, invertebrates, and other water creatures.
Marine biodiversity is often thought of as countless different species living in different habitats, but in reality, it is so much more than that. It is the intricate web of life that exists in the oceans, with each species playing a crucial role in the health of the ecosystem.
The interconnectedness of marine biodiversity is what makes it so important to protect. If one species is removed from the ecosystem, it can have a ripple effect that disrupts the delicate balance that exists. This can lead to the decline of other species, and ultimately, the collapse of the entire ecosystem.
Humans are the biggest threat to marine biodiversity. We have caused the extinction of many species and are continuing to do so at an alarming rate. Our activities have also led to the decline of many other species.
It is estimated that we have already lost 40% of the world’s coral reefs, and if we don’t act now, we could lose them all within our lifetime.
In order to protect the oceans, we need to reduce our impact on the environment and be more conscious of the choices we make. We need to be more careful about the products we use and the way we dispose of them.
We need to educate others about the importance of marine biodiversity and the threat it is under.
The loss of marine biodiversity is one of the most pressing environmental issues the world is facing today. The unsustainable harvesting of marine resources, pollution, climate change, and habitat loss are all contributing to the decline in marine biodiversity.
The loss of marine biodiversity has far-reaching consequences for both the environment and the economy. Marine biodiversity provides many ecosystem services that are vital to human well-being, including food provision, water purification, and carbon sequestration. The loss of these services can have a significant negative impact on human health and well-being.
In addition to the direct impacts on human health and well-being, the loss of marine biodiversity also has implications for the economy. The healthy functioning of marine ecosystems is essential for the continued viability of many industries, including fisheries, tourism, and recreation. The loss of biodiversity can therefore lead to substantial economic losses.
The loss of marine biodiversity is a serious problem that requires urgent action. The sustainable management of marine resources is essential to protecting marine biodiversity and ensuring the continued provision of ecosystem services to people.
Importance of marine biodiversity
Marine biodiversity is critical to the health and function of our planet’s oceans. We depend on the oceans for our very survival, and yet we are making them sick. The good news is that it’s not too late to turn things around.
The first step is understanding what marine biodiversity is and why it’s so important. Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. This includes all the different plants, animals, and microorganisms that make up our planet’s ecosystems. Marine biodiversity refers specifically to the variety of life found in the ocean.
There are five main reasons why marine biodiversity is so important:
- It provides us with vital resources. The ocean is a major source of food, water, and oxygen for our planet. It also provides us with other important resources, such as medicines and building materials.
- It helps to regulate the Earth’s climate. The ocean plays a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate. For example, it helps to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps to limit climate change.
- It supports the health of the ecosystem. A healthy marine ecosystem is vital to the health of our planet. Marine biodiversity helps to keep the ecosystem in balance, which in turn helps to protect our planet from sea level rise, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.
- It provides us with recreational opportunities. The ocean is a popular destination for recreation, such as swimming, fishing, and boating.
- It is important for the economy. The ocean is a major source of income for many countries. For example, fisheries and tourism are both major contributors to the economy.
Challenges that bar protection of marine biodiversity
As the world’s population continues to grow, the demand for seafood also increases. This puts a strain on the world’s fisheries and the marine ecosystem. In order to sustain the seafood industry and protect marine biodiversity, we need to be proactive and adopt responsible fishing practices.
Responsible fishing practices not only help to conserve fish stocks but also protect other marine life and habitats. For example, bottom trawling — a fishing method that involves dragging a large net along the sea floor — can damage coral reefs and other sensitive habitats. Bycatch — the capture of non-targeted fish, turtles, dolphins, and other marine animals — is another serious problem associated with fishing.
In order to address these issues, a number of organizations have been established, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC is an independent, non-profit organization that works with the fishing industry, scientists, conservation groups, and the seafood supply chain to promote sustainable fishing.
The MSC operates a certification scheme that assesses the environmental impact of fisheries and awards fisheries that meet its standards with an ‘MSC certified sustainable’ label. This label assures consumers that the seafood they are buying has been sustainably caught.
The MSC’s standards are based on three principles: sustainable fish stocks, minimizing environmental impact, and effective management. To be certified sustainable, a fishery must be able to demonstrate that it meets these principles.
The MSC certification scheme is voluntary, but it is having a positive impact. To date, over 500 fisheries around the world have been certified sustainable by the MSC, and this number is growing every year.
The MSC’s work is just one example of the many initiatives that are helping to promote sustainable fishing and protect marine biodiversity. However, there is still more work to be done. Overfishing is a global problem that needs to be addressed urgently. We need to work together to find solutions that will enable us to fish responsibly and protect the world’s oceans for future generations.
However, when one looks at the issue of marine biodiversity, be it through an aesthetic, economic, or simply survival lens, the conclusion is the same: the magic of marine biodiversity is essential to our planet and our survival as a species. The oceans are a vast and untapped resource, and as we continue to explore and understand them, we come to realize just how integral they are to our world. In short, the magic of marine biodiversity is something we cannot afford to lose.
To protect our natural treasury, we need to act now for the sake of the ecosystem and for our future.Read more: Marine Biodiversity