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All is not lost. An international study led by researchers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, claims that despite the world’s oceans being used as a human dumping ground for decades, the seas have shown some resistance. and a positive response to sustainable programs that help conserve marine ecosystems, suggesting that this resilience can be leveraged to bring them to restoration in less than three decades.
The study published in April 2020 in the journal of scientific rigor , ‘Nature‘, establishes an essential route for the necessary actions over the next 30 years , aligning itself with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030. The project brings together some of the world’s leading marine experts, working in 10 countries and 16 universities to try to restore the ecosystem.
We are at a point where we can choose between a legacy of a resilient and vibrant ocean, or an irreversibly disturbed ocean,” said Carlos Duarte, professor of marine science and president of marine ecology at the Red Sea Research Center. “Our study documents the recovery of marine populations, habitats and ecosystems after previous conservation interventions. It provides specific evidence-based recommendations for scaling globally proven solutions. ”
Although humans had a major impact on marine life, the researchers found evidence of remarkable resilience. In particular, scientists describe an emerging change in recent years, from species extinctions throughout the 20th century to a slowdown, and in some cases, recovery, during the first two decades of the 21st century.
The evidence highlights that the abundance of marine life can be restored if the right policies are implemented, allowing a more sustainable ocean economy. The humpback whales are a particularly good example. On the brink of extinction in the 1970s, the number of mammals doubled since the 1980s, thanks to conservation programs, while they are now on track to fully approximate pre-industrial numbers.
Studying the impact of ocean conservation interventions and previously successful recovery trends, the researchers identified nine integral components for rebuilding marine life: marshes, mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs, seaweeds, oyster reefs , fisheries, megafauna and the deep sea.
However, to achieve this, the joint participation of all areas is required, as well as the continuity and preservation of programs, what they call “ Recovery wedge”, such as the protection of species, intelligent collection and restoration of habitats , as well as the establishment and maintenance of protected areas within the oceans.
But there are also tangible challenges that will not be easy to overcome, such as reducing ocean pollution and mitigating climate change. ” If we do not tackle climate change and increase the ambition and immediacy of these efforts, we risk wasting our efforts, ” says Professor Duarte, adding that “We must also move closer to reducing pressure on fish stocks and addressing the elements of contamination, such as plastic garbage . “
The research shows positive regarding the results in the medium and long term future, concluding that the recovery of the oceans by 2050 represents a feasible challenge for humanity, an ethical obligation, as well as an intelligent economic objective to achieve a sustainable ecosystem that needs everyone’s collaboration.