THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM

Oceans are the largest ecosystem on our planet. They are the key system supporting life on earth.

Marine waters cover about 71 percent of the planet’s surface. Coastal areas are densely populated, with half of the world’s people living within 200 kilometers of the coast. Fish and other marine life are the main sources of protein for one sixth of the world’s population. Oceans produce 50 percent of the oxygen necessary for human survival. A large portion of the global population relies on the natural resources in marine and coastal areas for their livelihood and economic wellbeing.

The oceans are as vast as we are small. Not respecting the sea, as countless stories over the ages tell us, risks destruction.

Yet, our oceans are dying. 

Ocean litter

We are living through a time scientists are calling “the sixth extinction event.” For the sixth time in planetary history, we are going through a period of mass extinction where many thousands upon thousands of species are vanishing forever. Some predictions say that as many as half of the Earth‘s species will disappear within the next 100 years.

In our lifetimes fish may go from being a staple in many diets to being a luxury food, as the oceans fish stocks risk total collapse.

Our oceans are home to billions of tons of rubbish, plastics that are changing digestion patterns of fish and other resources. We are “reassembling the biosphere.”

Human activity is a core driver for this extinction event.

Accelerating demand for protein and natural resources mean that individual actions add up to a dramatic downward spiral. Impacts range from the collapse of fish stocks and the destruction of habitats, to the acidification of oceans, resulting in a declining ability to support life. Our actions, collectively, as a species,are driving an unprecedented “race to the bottom.”

Oceans and coasts require global protection. Decision makers worldwide have agreed to seek a balance between conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems. For the protection of seasand coasts, we need stronger, more concentrated efforts at the global, regional, national and local levels.

How are we to address a challenge as vast as this one? 

How can divergent interests be brought into a meaningful dialogue resulting in action to ensure the long-term sustain ability of the oceans?

How can we reconcile diverging economic, ecological and social interests to prevent a race to the bottom? 

How can we forge an economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible vision for the use of ocean biodiversity and marine natural resources?