"Biodiversity can't be maintained by protecting a few species in a zoo, or by preserving greenbelts or national parks. To function properly, nature needs more room than that. It can maintain itself, however, without human expense, without zookeepers, park rangers, foresters or gene banks. All it needs is to be left alone." - Donella Meadows
A large proportion of all life on Earth lives in the ocean. Exactly how large the proportion is unknown, since many ocean species are still to be discovered. The ocean is a complex three-dimensional world covering approximately 71% of the Earth's surface.
Marine life is a vast resource, providing food, medicine, and raw materials, in addition to helping to support recreation and tourism all over the world. At a fundamental level, marine life helps determine the very nature of our planet. Marine organisms contribute significantly to the oxygen cycle, and are involved in the regulation of the Earth's climate.
Biological diversity in the oceans has decreased dramatically since industrialization began in the 19th century. Marine biodiversity is under threat from a range of factors, including overfishing of marine species, toxic chemicals and nutrient pollution, habitat destruction and mortality of non-target species.
The pressures of fishing have given rise to commercial extinction. Fish populations are depleted to the point that it is no longer economically feasible to fish for them.
Coastal habitats are subject to a number of physical alterations that deplete native species population. Tourism, aquaculture, industrial development, and dams all have huge impacts. Marine biodiversity is crucial to sustaining commercial fisheries, and in recent years several major U.S. fisheries have â€œcollapsedâ€- experienced a population decline so sharp that fishing is no longer commercially viable.
Today's biodiversity is the result of billions of years of evolution and natural processes. No one is quite sure how many species we have on Earth. So far 1.7 million species have been identified but the total number is thought to be somewhere between 5 to 100 million!.
Biodiversity is important economically in terms of food resources (agriculture, livestock, fish and seafood), biomedical research (coral reefs are home to thousands of species that may be developed into pharmaceuticals to maintain human health and to treat and cure disease), and tourism.
One of the most important functions of marine ecosystems is the production of plant biomass from sunlight and nutrients, which represents the basic food source for all life in the ocean, and ultimately also for humans. Marine fish and invertebrates are among the last sources of wild food on the planet, providing over 2.6 billion people with at least 20% of their average per capita protein intake.
Biodiversity has become a critical topic as the ever increasing human population has put tremendous pressure on the world's ecosystems for natural resources.
As far as the world's coral reefs are concerned, about 20% of them have been effectively destroyed and about 16% of them were seriously damaged by coral bleaching.
All species are an integral part of their ecosystem by performing specific functions that are often essential to their ecosystems. Some of these functions are to capture and store energy, cycle water and nutrients and help regulate climate.
Marine Conservation Organizations
1. The Reef-World Foundation works in close collaboration with Zoox, a UK based organisation who are helping those with a passion in marine conservation to build their careers through a variety of courses that provide in-depth specialist training, experience and professional development.
2. Conservation is a key part of the mission at Pacific Whale Foundation. The Foundation shares what they have learned about the marine environment as a result of more than three decades of ocean research. They are also responsible for advocating conservation-minded choices in the community and among those who join them on their ocean ecotours.
3. https://marine-conservation.org/what-we-do/ The Marine Conservation Institute helps identify Vulnerable ecosystems, advocates for healthy oceans and helps protect wild places.
4. Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) Fisheries Campaign works on five continents to stop the Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing that is dramatically depleting toothfish stocks - the most important commercial fish in the Southern Ocean.
5. Blue Ocean Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring ocean conservation through science, art, and literature.
6. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and the slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.
7. ReefBase facilitates sustainable management of coral reefs and related coastal / marine environments, in order to benefit poor people in developing countries whose livelihoods depend on these natural resources.