A new report released on Thursday, April 23, by the World Wildlife Foundation, entitled Reviving the Ocean Economy, estimates the total wealth of the ocean at $24 trillion, capable of producing $2.5 trillion in assets per year. Those figures, the WWF cautions, “are a vast underestimation.”
If it were a nation, the ocean would rank seventh in gross domestic product, just behind the U.K. and just ahead of Brazil.
“Underpinning this value,” the report states, “are direct outputs (fishing, aquaculture), services enabled (tourism, education), trade and transportation (coastal and oceanic shipping), and adjacent benefits (carbon sequestration, biotechnology).”
As “human activities” have created major changes to marine ecosystems, changed coastlines, and fished down the food web, marine life is deeply threatened and coastal development leaves “few places for marine life to find refuge or reproduce.” Not to mention, rapid acidification is making the ocean utterly uninhabitable for a broad range of species. Already, the U.S. oyster industry has lost $110 million in revenue and thousands of jobs from acidification alone.
“The analysis did not include valuable intangibles such as the ocean’s role in climate regulation, the production of oxygen, temperature stabilization of our planet, or the spiritual and cultural services the ocean provides,” the report went on to state. “The fact that these additional values are not included in this analysis means that the actual value of the ocean is much higher… We must do more, much more, to protect our ocean asset base. A prudent treasurer or CEO would not wait until the next financial report to correct course. They would act now.”