The assessment is the second of its kind and outlines the current state of the world’s oceans.
INTERNATIONAL一 A little over a month ago the United Nations released the second World Ocean Assessment, a 500-page document developed with the input of 300 experts that detail the environmental pressures affecting the world’s oceans.
The report is a comprehensive study that builds on the first World Ocean Assessment released in 2015. The two studies outline the state of the world’s oceans, the relationship between the ocean and humanity, and any other social and economic aspects.
“The first World Ocean Assessment marked the first time that an assessment comprehensively covered all aspects of the marine environment, in so doing it provided a strong baseline on the state of our ocean,” said Juliette Babb-Riley, deputy permanent representative of Barbados to the UN, and co-chair of the second cycle of the regular process, in an introductory video posted by the UN. “The second world ocean assessment addresses the gaps identified in the first one as well as emerging trends since the first assessment.”
In an April 21 press release, the UN outlined a few key takeaways from the report specifically regarding the relationship between ocean science and technology and their critical role in restoring the ocean and the dangers that the ocean is currently facing.
The report notes that sea-level rise is set at an alarming rate, that paired with increased storms and coastal urbanization has led to coastal erosion and flooding.
There is a distinct rise in carbon dioxide emissions leading to acidification, ocean warming, which ocean heat has more than doubled since 1990, and deoxygenation of the oceans leading to an increase in ‘dead zones’ from 400 in 2008 to 700 in 2019.
The report saw around 90 percent of mangrove, seagrass, and marsh plant species, and 31 percent of seabird species threatened with extinction.
Environments are heavily affected by litter, marine life is being entangled in it, they are ingesting it, and the level of invasive species that are brought in by it.
Human-mediated movements have introduced roughly 2,000 marine non-indigenous species.
Overfishing has created an estimated annual loss of $89.9 billion in net benefits, and approximately 15 percent of sandy beaches worldwide have seen an average of 1 meter of retreating shorelines in the past 33 years.
Not all is lost, the press release noted that the increase in technology has brought along innovations with positive outcomes like the increased efficiency in energy generation.
The report notes that technology has improved since 2015 leading to the discovery of more than 200 species of fish and 11,000 new invertebrate species like mollusks and crustaceans.
The innovations have also led to the mitigation of some environmental pressures facing oceans, the creation of Marine Protected Areas, and in some regions the improved management of pollution and fisheries.
In the introduction video from the UN, Sylvia Earle, president, and chair of Mission Blue, a world alliance dedicated to protecting the ocean, spoke about the importance of understanding the world’s oceans and the relationship they have with humanity.
“The second World Ocean Assessment really is addressing this great gap in our understanding of this most important part of the planet,” said Earle in the UN’s introduction video. “This is the time to step back and dive in and really look at the problems and really look at the solutions and see how the interests of humankind are linked to the ocean.”
The UN noted that this study was written before the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, there was a brief relief on the world’s oceans, but the full implication of the pandemic is still being studied. For more information or to read the full report see the link, https://www.un.org/regularprocess/woa2launch.