The Ocean and Us

Yvonne Sadovy and Claudio Campagna, IUCN SSC Marine Conservation Sub-Committee Healthy marine ecosystems play a crucial role in and contribute to sustainable development through their provision of food, livelihoods, income, contribution to national security and their cultural, traditional and aesthetic associations and linkages. From an economic and social perspective, seafood supports hundreds of millions of people across the planet either directly as food and for domestic and international trade, or indirectly from associated livelihoods that range from boat building to fish processing and mariculture (fish farming). Seafood is the most extensively traded food commodity globally, is a critically important global source of high quality protein for humans as well as for animal feed, and is vital for many developing countries. Fishing is often an activity of last resort in times of social and economic hardship. Healthy seas are also critically important for international security

with regional and international conflicts often associated with increased competition for limited fishery stocks. While mariculture significantly increases seafood supply, it too depends heavily on healthy marine ecosystems whether for clean water, feed for cultured fishes and invertebrates or for the genetic diversity essential for sustaining viable mariculture operations. Marine ecosystems are major producers of pharmaceutical products found in no other ecosystem, massively support tourism and are most productive when they are at their healthiest. Intact coastal ecosystems contribute immeasurably from their protective physical role through the physical presence of healthy reefs as barriers against storms, erosion and extreme weather events. The seas are sources of inspiration, unrivalled in their generation of biological diversity and beauty. Yet, notwithstanding that fishing is one of the last examples of huge exploitation of wildlife that still occurs there remains much to discover about marine biodiversity, the many species that make up marine ecosystems, and their interrelationships with each other and with man.

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