Oceans are essential for oxygen and regulating climate
More than 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean as their primary source of food. Oceans cover more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface, produce over half of the world’s oxygen, sequester approximately fifty-times more carbon than the atmosphere and they regulate climate and weather patterns.
Ocean and coastal systems purify water and reduce the energy of severe storm events. They control sediment and filter nutrients. They serve as transport routes for people, aquatic organisms and birds. Ocean systems are home to an abundance of life, which provides us with opportunities for wonder and recreation, as well as food and medicine. An estimated 40 million people are employed in ocean and coast-based industries such as fishing and tourism. These systems provide renewable wind energy and they are important for our mental health and wellbeing.
Issues facing oceans and coastal ecosystems
Climate change is affecting sea temperatures, resulting in sea level rise, storm surge and changes in the behaviour and patterns of sea life. Coastal areas are being eroded by more frequent and severe flooding, and coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, saltmarshes and seagrasses are being lost at a rate rivalling that of rainforests. A reduction in coastal vegetation impacts resiliency to and energy dissipation for storms, as well as resulting in a loss of biodiversity and habitat degradation.
Increasing coastal populations encroach on ecosystems. Polluting runoff from agricultural, industrial and urban areas, as well as an increasing number of plastics, impact water quality and kills vital organisms.
Solutions to help ocean and coastal ecosystems
We must urgently address climate change. Over-fishing can be reduced through sustainable aquaculture and fish-farming. Improving filtration will reduce input to oceans from sediments, nutrients, effluent and other pollution including plastics. Restoring coastal habitats will provide an ecological uplift and biodiversity will be improved by reinstating native plants.
Improved urban planning will create healthier and more resilient systems, and incorporating engineering with nature practices improve resiliency and functionality. Sustainable development and improved municipal drainage and sewage treatment will all improve these ecosystems.
HOW WE CAN ALL HELP
The WWF has six ways to help save our seas:
- Make responsible seafood choices
- Cut your emissions
- Keep plastics away from beaches
- Use reef-safe sun cream
- Use sustainable tourism companies
- Support conservation charities
Ramboll's work supporting ocean and coastal ecosystems
Click below to read more about projects and news related to this ecosystem