A scientific review of the world’s oceans published in the scientific journal Nature this past spring concluded that the world’s oceans can be restored within a generation. Through rampant overfishing, pollution and coastal destruction, humanity has inflicted severe damage on the oceans and its inhabitants for centuries. But conservation successes, while still isolated, demonstrate the remarkable resilience of the seas.
The scientists say there is now the knowledge to create an ocean renaissance for wildlife by 2050 and with it bolster the services that the world’s people rely on, from food to coastal protection to climate stability. The measures needed, including protecting large swathes of ocean, sustainable fishing and pollution controls, would cost billions of dollars a year, the scientists say, but would bring benefits 10 times as high.
Among the success stories are humpback whales that migrate from Antarctica to eastern Australia, whose populations have surged from a few hundred animals in 1968, before whaling was banned, to more than 40,000 today. Sea otters in western Canada have risen from just dozens in 1980 to thousands now. In the Baltic Sea, both grey seal and cormorant populations are soaring.