Experts predict top emerging impacts on ocean biodiversity over next decade

An international team of experts has produced a list of 15 issues they believe are likely to have a significant impact on marine and coastal biodiversity over the next five to ten years.

Their “horizon scanning” technique focuses on identifying issues that are not currently receiving widespread attention, but are likely to become important over the next decade. The aim is to raise awareness and encourage investment into full assessment of these issues now, and potentially drive policy change, before the issues have a major impact on biodiversity.

The issues include the impacts of wildfires on coastal ecosystems, the effects of new biodegradable materials on the marine environment, and an ’empty’ zone at the equator as species move away from this warming region of the ocean.

“Marine and coastal ecosystems face a wide range of emerging issues that are poorly recognized or understood, each having the potential to impact biodiversity,” said Dr. James Herbert-Read in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology, joint first author of the paper.

He added: “By highlighting future issues, we’re pointing to where changes must be made today—both in monitoring and policy—to protect our marine and coastal environments.”

While there are many well-known issues facing ocean biodiversity including climate change, ocean acidification and pollution, this study focused on lesser-known emerging issues that could soon have significant impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems.

University of Cambridge (via, 7 July 2022. Press release.

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