Ocean assets such as fisheries, shipping lanes and tourism are worth $24 trillion and produce an annual value of $2.5 trillion from their outputs, says a latest report by the conservation group World Wide Fund (WWF).
The report titled “Reviving the Ocean Economy” attempts to estimate the value of the oceans and proposes steps for its safeguarding.
“If the oceans were a country it would be the seventh-largest economy on the planet. I do not think that is surprising to any marine scientist but it may come as a surprise to a lot of people outside marine science,” said marine scientist and lead author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute in St Lucia.
“Being a natural scientist, I am suspicious of economists.”
“But when you look at different numbers, this is not too far off what other people have found in terms of components of the total value,” Hoegh-Guldberg noted.
The report looks at the oceans as one system which has not been the case in previous efforts.
“In the past, we have missed that opportunity to look at the interactions between local and global factors, between fishing and ocean chemistry and so on,” he added.
The report comes up with a very large number despite the fact that we can not value the many intangibles such as the production of sand along coastlines, the value of oceans in terms of their contribution to cultures, and so on.
“We do not make any apologies for the fact that we cannot get the real value. But we can get a number which we know is the minimum, and in this case it is a very large number,” he continued.
The eight proposed actions in the report include committing to ocean targets in the UN sustainable development goals, agreement on avoiding damage from climate change and a new alliance of maritime states.
“The eight actions are achievable. We have already had a big push at the international level to establish sustainable development goals focused on the ocean,” the authors emphasised.