Place-Based Protections in an Era of Climate Change
- New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 1: The Value of the Oceans
1. The value of the oceans The oceans cover three-fourths of the earth’s surface, contain 97% of the earth’s water, and represent 99% of the living space on the planet by volume. The oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species but actual numbers may lie in the millions. The oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with over 2.6 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein. Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people. Marine and coastal resources directly provide over $3 trillion in annual economic goods and services plus an estimated $20.9 trillion per year in non-market ecosystem services, about 63 percent of the value of all such services. In some parts of the world, such as West Africa and the Pacific islands, fisheries represent thirty percent or more of export earnings and provide local livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of coastal fishermen. Ninety percent of all internationally traded goods are transported via shipping. —United Nations Development Programme Few people are unmoved by the beauty of a healthy coral reef, teeming with fish and displaying a riot of colors. Often compared to rainforests for their ecological and biodiversity values, coral reefs account for approximately 40 percent—about 100,000—of the world’s marine species, even though they occupy only 0.2 percent of the oceans’ surface.1 However, coral reefs are also some of the most imperiled ecosystems on the planet. Recent evidence suggests that 20 percent of the world’s coral reefs...
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