According to a new study published in Nature, one generation would be sufficient for the oceans to heal and return to their former glory.
The study uses evidence from successful conservation interventions around the globe to suggest that the oceans’ health could be restored by 2050.
The mandatory measures require the protection of large marine areas, sustainable fishing and pollution control, with costs equal to several billion dollars a year – but which would bring considerable benefits (10 times higher). The fate of the seas would therefore not be sealed. .
The study highlights how worldwide fishing is becoming increasingly sustainable and how the destruction of the marine habitat has stopped almost completely, with a large area being recovered from Florida to the Philippines. This has led to several positive news, such as the migration of whales from Antarctica to Australia and an increase in theit population from a few hundred in the 60s to approximately 40,000 specimens today. The number of sea otters in Canada has also increased from a few dozen in the 1980s to around a thousand and seal and cormorant populations are also on the rise thanks to our more recent preservation efforts.
However the situation is still not entirely stable, especially when it comes to pollution. As the research points out, contamination by factories and the spillage of plastic waste are still a huge problem, as is the rise in temperature and uncontrolled wild fishing, which still takes place in some areas.
Co-author of the study, Professor Callum Roberts from the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York, said: “The success of many marine conservation projects in recent years illustrates how we can make a real difference to life in our oceans if we apply the lessons learnt from them at scale and with urgency.
“Over-fishing and climate change are tightening their grip, but there is hope in the science of restoration. We now have the skills and expertise to be able to restore vital marine habitats such as oyster reefs, mangrove swamps and salt marshes—which keep our seas clean, our coasts protected and provide food to support entire ecosystems.”
“Science gives us reason to be optimistic about the future of our oceans,” Roberts added.
The study involved some of the world’s leading marine scientists working across four continents, in 10 countries and from 16 universities. It uses evidence from successful conservation interventions around the globe to recommend crucial steps the international community can take to restore the abundance of marine life.