IPBES Ocean: Key points, quotes and contacts

Date: 29th April 2019

Role the ocean plays in climate change (e.g. warming seas contributing to sea level rise, coral reef bleaching and krill loss, Arctic destabilisation and extreme weather)

  • Direct impacts from warming and deoxygenation and indirect via changes in the quantity and quality of surface primary production are likely to impact on the abundance and diversity of life in the ocean, with significant consequences for vital ocean functions, such as food provision and active transport and burial of carbon.
  • The effects of climate change on marine ecosystems thus far have been global and have manifested rapidly and at large scales. This has major impacts on ecosystem structure, function and service provision to humankind with measurable social and economic consequences.
  • We are already seeing the effects of climate change and acidification with marine heatwaves and pulses of acidified or low oxygen water which are causing marine organisms to either suffocate, starve, die of heatstroke or become corroded by acidification.
  • One of the clearest indicators of ocean decline under climate change is the fate of both shallow and deep coral reefs. Around 90% of coral reefs are already damaged through unsustainable use with all reefs, even those that are less exploited, severely threatened by warming and acidification.

Recent study demonstrates that ocean acidification is having a major impact on marine life. Studies at CO2 seeps worldwide have shown that reefs made by organisms with shells or skeletons, such oysters or corals, are sensitive to ocean acidification and that degraded reefs provide less coastal protection and less habitat for commercially important fish and shellfish. This amplifies the risks to marine goods and services from climate change causing shifts to seaweed dominance, habitat degradation and a loss of biodiversity in the tropics, the sub-tropics and on temperate coasts.

Professor Jason Hall-Spencer, Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth

The importance of protecting the biodiversity of the whole ocean cannot be overstated, it is essential in combatting climate change and maintaining the life support system that makes our planet habitable. Currently two-thirds of the ocean, almost half the planet, falls outside the protection of law and that’s why it is so important that we secure a new, robust High Seas treaty in 2020.

Peggy Kalas, Coordinator, High Seas Alliance

Biodiversity of fish populations and human dependency on them from a livelihoods and food security perspective

  • The emergence of new ocean conditions for organisms, from plankton to mammals, is driving shifts in species distributions and rapidly altering the fundamental ecology of coastal habitats upon which people rely for their income and wellbeing. The implications of this biodiversity disturbance is critical for the whole ocean and undermines the ocean’s resilience to climate change.

For the sake of ocean biodiversity and the food security of billions of people worldwide, governments should stop giving environmentally damaging fisheries subsidies, currently estimated at US$20 billion a year.

Professor Rashid Sumalia, University of British Columbia

The report highlights the alarming degree of biodiversity loss and scientists have warned that even more loss would occur if the deep sea, one of the last frontiers on the planet, is opened to seabed mining. The UN’s International Seabed Authority is working to finalize regulations to permit deep-sea mining in the international areas of the ocean, something that should be of great concern to all of us.

Matthew Gianni, Political Advisor, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

Spokespeople & Experts

Professor Les Watling, Department of Biology, University of Hawaii

+ 1808-956-8621 (office) + 1808-772-9563 (cell)

Deep ocean and vulnerability of deep ocean species, including the oldest creatures on the planet (eg. black coral off coast of Hawaii, 4,200 years old).

Professor Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation, Department of Environment and Geography, University of York

+ 44 1904 324066 (Office) + 44 7712 213636 (cell)

General marine extinction threat and Marine Protected Areas.

Professor Alex Rogers, Scientific Director International Programme on the State of the Ocean, Oxford University

+ 44 7927 645546‬

Corals; general marine extinction.

Professor Willian Cheung, Canada Research Chair (Ocean Sustainability and Global Change), Principal Investigator, Changing Ocean Research Unit

+ 1 604 827 37561 (office) Skype: wai_lung

Lead Author of the IPBES report. General comments on the ocean aspect of the report.

Professor Rashid Sumalia, Director of the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, Fisheries Economics Research Unit, University of British Columbia

+ 1 604 822 0224 (office) + 1 604 351 7406 (cell).

Fisheries and economics.

Professor Jason Hall-Spencer, Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth

+ 44 1752584629 + (office) 44 7952887075 (mobile)

Ocean Acidification and its impact on biodiversity.

Laura Margison, Director of Communications, Pew Charitable Trusts

+ 1.202-540-6395 (office) + 1.202-849-0272 (cell)

General marine policy; role of indigenous peoples.

Lisa Speer, Director International Oceans Programme, NRDC

+ 1 (203) 249-0906‬ (NB. Will be in China on May 6th)

General marine policy; Arctic and High Seas

Mirella von Lindenfels, Director International, Programme on the State of the Ocean

+ 44 7717 844 352

General marine, High Seas and deep sea. Can assist with other contacts.

Karen Sack, Director, Ocean Unite

+ 1 (202) 415-5403‬

General marine; 30×30.

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