- Expert Group meeting on Oceans, Seas and Sustainable Development: Implementation and follow-up to Rio+20
18 Apr 2013 - 19 Apr 2013 , New York, NY
Oceans & Seas
Importance of oceansOceans, covering 72 per cent of the Earthís surface, support life, drive the climate and hydrological cycles and provide vital resources. They are critical for global food security, for sustainable economic prosperity and the well-being of many national economies, particularly in developing countries. Fish and fishery products represent a very valuable source of protein and essential micronutrients for balanced nutrition and good health. In 2009, fish accounted for 16.6 percent of the world populationís intake of animal protein and 6.5 percent of all protein consumed. Coral-reef fish species also represent an important source of protein and contribute about one quarter of the total fish catch on average in developing countries. A healthy and effectively managed coral reef can produce 5 to 15 tons of fish and seafood per square kilometer per year. Apart from food and livelihood provision, oceans play an important role in the global climate system by generating oxygen and absorbing about 30 per cent of global CO2 emissions. Oceans represent a natural resource with respect to the travel and tourism, mining, telecommunication and transportation industries. In addition, some marine species have been analysed and tested for pharmaceutical use, among others in the area of cancer, HIV and malaria treatment. Despite their economic, social and environmental benefits, oceans, seas and their related ecosystems are facing numerous local and global threats caused by human activity and climate change. Today, 85% of the world's fisheries are either fully exploited, over exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. About one fifth of the global coral reefs have already been damaged beyond repair and it is predicted that 35 per cent will be lost within the next 20 to 40 years if no change occurs. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, oceans have become 30 per cent more acidic and predictions show that by 2050, ocean acidity could even increase by 150 per cent - with devastating effects on marine ecosystems. Ensuring healthy and productive oceans is therefore crucial for achieving sustainable development.