Science tells us that we are pushing natural limits on climate, biodiversity, nutrient cycles, freshwater and ocean health. While research has never been clearer on defining planetary boundaries, society has never positioned itself so closely to the edge. There is growing recognition of the state of our natural systems is leading to greater integration of economic, social and environmental principles—as evident in the work to develop a set of global Sustainable Development Goals.
More businesses are implementing responsible practices and there is a lively debate around the green and circular economy. The recent report,Reviving the Ocean Economy, conservatively estimates the ocean’s annual economic output to be US$2.5trn. Compared to national GDPs, this makes the ocean the world’s seventh largest economy. A separate WWF analysis makes the case for investing in marine protected areas by showing that each dollar spent returns at least three.
The steps to be taken are complex but clear. Wasteful and destructive fishing methods must be stopped, overcapacity cut and sustainable management of marine resources incentivised. Marine protected areas and support for sustainable aquaculture are also important. To protect the ocean, pollution and climate change for warming and acidification must be addressed.