Much has been made of our ability to rebuild smarter and more sustainably and I’m here to tell you, any conversations we have must include the planet’s life support system: the ocean.
Valued at over $24 trillion in some studies, the ocean is the seventh largest economy in the world. That includes fisheries, tourism, and shipping services, but doesn’t include additional benefits from renewable energy, cultural value, or reducing climate change impacts.
That economy has been under tremendous stress from over-exploitation, mismanagement, and neglect for a long time, and now many ecosystems may be on the brink of collapse.
Luckily, ocean ecosystems are able to heal, if we can give them a break. If we can be thoughtful about moving forward, our salvation can come from the very same place that gives us more than half the oxygen we breathe and creates livelihoods for over three billion people.
The ocean economy is growing: to name a few tourism, fisheries, marine renewable energy, and biotech are set to grow at double the rate of any land industry by 2030. This is a bright light for countries and communities who have seen their economies stall in the middle of the pandemic. But it’s also a cautionary statistic.
We cannot ride this wave of growth without making thoughtful and sustainable choices, or we’ll end up crashing right into collapsing fisheries, bleached reefs, and poisoned waters as we’ve seen all over the globe. 2030 is also the target given by the United Nations as the year by which we must protect 30 per cent of the world’s ocean space in order to give our environment a chance to rebuild and thrive.