The untapped riches in the world’s oceans are estimated at nearly 24 trillion dollars – the size of the world’s leading economies, according to a new report released Thursday by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Describing the oceans as economic powerhouses, the study warns that the resources in the high seas are rapidly eroding through over-exploitation, misuse and climate change.
“The ocean feeds us, employs us, and supports our health and well-being, yet we are allowing it to collapse before our eyes. If everyday stories of the ocean’s failing health don’t inspire our leaders, perhaps a hard economic analysis will.” —Marco Lambertini of WWF
“The ocean rivals the wealth of the world’s richest countries, but it is being allowed to sink to the depths of a failed economy,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International.
“As responsible shareholders, we cannot seriously expect to keep recklessly extracting the ocean’s valuable assets without investing in its future.”
If compared to the world’s top 10 economies, the ocean would rank seventh with an annual value of goods and services of 2.5 trillion dollars, according to the study,
Titled Reviving the Ocean Economy, the report was produced by WWF in association with The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
After nine years of intense negotiations, a U.N. Working Group, comprising all 193 member states, agreed last January to convene an inter-governmental conference aimed at drafting a legally binding treaty to conserve marine life and genetic resources in what is now considered mostly lawless high seas.
Dr. Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s former Permanent Representative who co-chaired the Working Group, told IPS the oceans are the next frontier for exploitation by large corporations, especially those seeking to develop lucrative pharmaceuticals from living and non-living organisms which exist in large quantities in the high seas.