Marine Biodiversity is a complex biological organization consisting of diverse levels of genes, species and other elements that forms a highly convoluted ecosystem having its own structural and functional attributes. Since these elements contribute to form a larger structure, even a slight disturbance caused to one of its integrands can have a tremendous impact on the system as a whole. Analysis of local experiments, long term regional time series and global fisheries data over the past few decades have revealed an alarming rate of marine biodiversity depletion due to overfishing, pollution and global warming.
It is estimated that within 50 years from now, a major source of wild seafood will face a collapse; i.e., a 90 percent depletion of the species’ baseline abundance. The extensive depletion of the marine ecosystem and its biodiversity happening across the globe will affect the production of seafood, resistance to diseases, filtering of pollutants etc, resulting in the decline of their productivity and stability. According to marine ecologist Palumbi, the ocean is a great recycler which takes sewage and recycles it into nutrients. But to provide these services, he added, the ocean needs all of its working parts—the millions of plant and animal species that inhabit the sea. With the loss of marine species’, human lives will also be affected by notable consequences as the chances of disease outbreaks, noxious algal blooms, and the presence of invasive species will get higher.
Each species bears a lot of significance in an interlinked ecosystem which points to the need of preserving the marine ecosystem altogether rather than continuing with single species management. This century might encounter the end of wild seafood unless we fundamentally change the way we manage all the ocean species together as working ecosystems. Researchers still believe that this situation can be turned around; though only one percent of the ocean is effectively protected now. Measures like integrated fisheries management, pollution control, maintenance of essential habitats and creation of marine reserves can help in stabilising and improving the quality of marine ecosystems. Though a rapid recovery is not possible, in many cases the species resurged more quickly than anticipated.
Climate change and oceanic resource depletion is real and it’s high time for us to undertake actions to prevent the marine biodiversity loss that would have a serious impact not only on humans but also the entire biome.