Life came from the ocean. Without the ocean, life on Earth is not possible. The ocean produces and regulates much of the planet’s oxygen and water, provides substantial amounts of its nutrient and carbon cycling and supports most of its biological diversity. Fish feed over 3 billion humans, supplying 20% of their animal protein intake (FAO, 2016).
The resilience of the ocean is decreasing. The biodiversity of the high seas, which constitute almost half of Earth’s surface, remains largely unprotected from multiple threats. These include pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing, noise, and other new and emerging uses. All are compounded by climate change and ocean acidification. Severe depletion of coastal and shelfisheries has long been widely acknowledged, but for many years the open ocean was still considered one of the last great wild places on Earth. We now know that the open ocean, too, is under threat.