WOR 7 The Ocean, Guarantor of Life – Sustainable Use, Effective Protection | 2021


The Ocean, Guarantor of Life – Sustainable Use, Effective Protection
> The seventh edition of the »World Ocean Review« focuses on the effects of climate change on the physics of the ocean and on its biotic communities; the consequences of fishing, shipping, resource extraction, energy production, and marine pollution; and the questions of how active substances from the ocean can be used and how the ocean can be managed in the future in such a way that both its protection and the participation of as many people as possible in its services and goods are ensured.
Our oceans – source of life © HRAUN/Getty Images

Our oceans – source of life

> The oceans and seas supply much of the oxygen we breathe and are a source of food for over a third of the world’s population. They provide livelihoods for millions of people and have a place in the hearts of many more as a haven of dreams, a spiritual home, or as a playground for sports and adventure. The seas also regulate the weather and climate and curb anthropogenic warming of the Earth. For all these reasons, the future of humankind is directly connected to the fate of the oceans.

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Oceans under climate change © Ed Hawkins/Creative Commons, https://showyourstripes.info

Oceans under climate change

> The oceans provide an invaluable service to humankind: They regulate climate and curb global warming by absorbing much of the heat that is trapped in the Earth System due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This, however, also sets large-scale chain reactions in motion. On the one hand, water temperatures and sea levels rise. On the other, the physics and chemistry of the oceans are altered so dramatically that marine life is thrown out of sync.

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Food from the sea © Christian Åslund/Greenpeace

Food from the sea

> For a long time, the ocean was seen as an inexhaustible storehouse of food. But the days of plentiful supply are long past. Through overfishing, coastal development and climate change, humankind has already deprived many marine species of their vital necessities. New strategies for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture management chart a course towards improvement but are rarely implemented in actual practice.

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Transport over the seas © plain­picture/Thomas Ebert

Transport over the seas

> In recent decades shipping has become the backbone of international trade. More and more goods are being transported from one continent to another by ship. But this growth also has a downside. Exhaust emissions from ships pollute the air and accelerate climate change, while noise, sewage, garbage and invasive species put pressure on marine ecosystems. New, environmentally sound solutions are needed as quickly as possible.

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Energy and resources from the ocean © Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images Reportage

Energy and resources from the ocean

> Today, industry and business are interested in a wide range of resources found in the ocean, including sand, crude oil and natural gas, while preparations are under way for the industrial exploitation of vast ore deposits in the deep sea. At the same time, governments and corporations are expanding the production of green electricity from the sea. Both of these developments will result in even more large-scale human interventions in the ocean environment.

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Pollution of the oceans © plainpicture/Hanna Orlowski: fig. 6.1: after UNEP, 2019

Pollution of the oceans

> Whether deliberately discharged or unintentionally introduced, plastic waste, pharma- ceuticals, toxic heavy metals, insecticides and other chemicals have found their way to every corner of the oceans. The consequences are catastrophic and often lethal, especially for marine organisms. The only good news is that international prohibitions of some pollutants are beginning to have an effect. Without radical changes in industry and commerce, however, the pollution crisis in the oceans cannot be overcome.

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The race for the oceans’ genetic diversity © BluePlanet Archive/Marc ­Chamberlain

The race for the oceans’ genetic diversity

> In the course of evolution, marine life has developed an astonishing variety of ingenious forms, functions and survival strategies. Marine-derived natural products and pharmaceuticals may therefore deliver progress and profit in many different economic sectors. However, it is still largely unclear who exactly may profit from the oceans’ genetic diversity, how it can be used fairly and, above all, how its conservation can be guaranteed in the long term.

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Marine management – aspiration and reality © plainpicture/Design Pics/O’Neil Castro

Marine management – aspiration and reality

> Humankind has divided the ocean into artificial zones in order to lay sole claim to specific areas and their resources. Species and water masses, however, migrate undisturbed across the borders of these zones, as do heat, pollutants and litter. Successful marine management therefore requires collective solutions, which must be based on transnational, cross-sectoral thinking and aim for the protection and sustainable use of the seas.

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