Story What is happening to Ocean Ecosystems?

More evidence on biodiversity loss and its impacts on Ocean Ecosystem Services has been recently published by an international research team. On the other hand, the results also suggest that it is possible to reverse this trend in species decline.

Release date 06/11/2006
Contributor Rania Spyropoulou

The results of a joint research project by a international team lhave shown that human -dominated marine ecosystems are experiencing accelerating loss of populations and species, with largely unknown consequences. The team analysed local experiments, long term regional time series and global fisheries data to test how biodiversity loss affects marine ecosystem services across temporal and spatial changes. Their conclusions are that marine biodiversity loss is increasingly impairing the ocean's capacity to provide food, maintain water quality and recover from perturbations. You can find more information in http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/314/5800/787/DC1.

On the other hand, the results also suggest that it is possible to reverse this trend in species decline. The authors found that reserve and fishery closures resulted in an increased species richness of 23% on average. This increase in biodiversity was associated with a four-fold increase in fishery productivity, in terms of catch per unit effort around the reserves. In October 2005, the European Commission adopted an ambitious strategy to protect the marine environment across Europe more effectively. The Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment1 aims to achieve good environmental status of the EU's marine waters by 2021 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend.

1For more information on the EU Marine Strategy: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/marine.htm