Ocean experts urge faster action on marine reserves

The Earth’s oceans are being destroyed at a much faster rate than they are being protected, said the world’s leading marine experts at the end of the IUCN Marine Protected Area Summit.

To make oceans more resistant to the impacts of climate change, other stress factors such as pollution and overfishing need to be kept away from marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, a major source of income and protein for millions of people worldwide.

“Climate change makes oceans warmer and more acidic, which causes corals to bleach and erodes their ability to build reef skeletons. But corals can adapt and survive if they are healthy and don’t suffer from sedimentation or disruptive fishing practices,” said Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of IUCN’s Marine Programme.

Better management of marine environments will also save mankind from accelerated climate change. Today, oceans are the world’s largest carbon sink, absorbing around 50 per cent of atmospheric CO² every year. However, continued discharges of carbon dioxide and poor marine management may turn oceans from a carbon sink into a major carbon source, releasing vast stores of carbon into the atmosphere, thus exacerbating climate change.

peopleandplanet.net, 6 April 2007. Article.

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