An international panel of experts has warned the cumulative pressures on the world’s oceans,
including overfishing and climate change, are pushing towards a mass extinction of marine life
unprecedented in human history.
The preliminary State of Oceans Report found recent scientific literature clearly shows the
health of the world’s oceans has declined further and faster than previously predicted.
“The predicted loss of biodiversity, depletion of fish stocks and degradation of ocean habitats
is a compelling alarm call for stronger protection of the unique aquatic environments and
marine life that live off the Australian coast,” Nature Conservation Council of NSW Chief
Executive Officer Pepe Clarke said today.
“The waters off NSW contain an abundant range of ocean life, but some of our most iconic
marine species will be the worst hit by the impact of climate change and pollution.
“Sharks, rays and sawfish are recognised as highly vulnerable to the combined effects of
coastal habitat changes and warming sea temperatures. The green sawfish has already been
driven to extinction in NSW waters in our lifetime, now we face the risk of losing other
vulnerable species such as the critically endangered grey nurse shark.
“It’s important our decision makers tackle the causes of pollution, overfishing and climate
change now and give our oceans and marine ecosystems a better chance of survival, rather
than simply responding to the symptoms for years to come.
“We urgently need better land use planning and other strategies that reduce or eliminate the
runoff of waste and chemicals into our oceans. We must help make our marine environments
more resilient to change by creating an expanded, world‐class network of marine parks and
sanctuaries off our coast. We need a thorough investigation of our fisheries and fishing
practices to make them as sustainable as possible.
“We have many of the solutions we need for more healthy, sustainable oceans. Now we must
heed the warning and act quickly,” Mr Clarke said.
Marine plastic pollution. Photo: Beamtwenty3