Marine ecosystems and life across the planet have been hit very hard due to human activity. Whether it be overfishing, pollution, warming oceans or climate change, the future health of the oceans are in severe jeopardy.
Yet, while so much damage has already occurred, we still have an opportunity to reverse the damage we have caused. In new research published in the journal Nature, they suggest that it is possible to rebuild the planet’s marine life to full abundance by 2050.
In the study, an international team of marine scientists from four different continents in 10 countries assessed how to recover the ocean’s biodiversity by looking at the impact of previously successful ocean conservation interventions.
“We have a narrow window of opportunity to deliver a healthy ocean to our grandchildren’s generation, and we have the knowledge and tools to do so. Failing to embrace this challenge – and in so doing condemning our grandchildren to a broken ocean unable to support high-quality livelihoods – is not an option,” Professor Carlos Duart, from the Red Sea Research Center at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, said in a statement.
Their research has revealed that many marine species have seen a remarkable recovery off the back of successful conservation efforts. For example, humpback whales and northern elephant seals have recovered to historical baselines following implementation of protections to allow the species to thrive.
Other species of animals that the researchers outlined that have had successful protections measures put in place include grey seals whose populations have increased by 1410% in eastern Canada and southern sea otters whose populations grew from just a few dozen in 1911 to several thousand today.
While these trends are very positive for some species, a lot of work and protective measures need to be put in place prior to this happening including meeting the goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement.
Outside of climate change, the researchers are calling on regulations on hunting, poaching and overfishing as well as greater regulations of industries that mine in the deep sea.
“We are at a point where we can choose between a legacy of a resilient and vibrant ocean or an irreversibly disrupted ocean,” said Duarte.
To learn more on how you can help protect the oceans, check out our guide here!