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UNEP Regional Seas Releases Marine Biodiversity Assessments

19 October 2010: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Seas office has released the Marine Biodiversity Assessment and Outlook: Global Synthesis, which provides the first systematic overview at a sub-global scale of the state of knowledge of marine biodiversity, the pressures it currently faces and the management frameworks in place for addressing those pressures.

The Global Synthesis report and individual regional reports were launched on 19 October 2010, on the sidelines of the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), taking place in Nagoya, Japan. The report highlights that marine biodiversity faces increasing pressures in all regions from land sourced pollution, ship sourced pollution and impacts of fishing. The report further shows that these pressures are serious and generally increasing despite measures in place to address them, and that they are amplified by predicted impacts of ocean warming, acidification and habitat change arising from climate and atmospheric change. The report warns that, without significant management intervention, marine biological diversity is likely to deteriorate substantially in the next 20 years, with growing consequences for resources and physical security of coastal nations. In particular, unchecked climate change could lead to an increase in surface sea temperatures by 2100, with important implications for coral reefs and other temperature-sensitive marine organisms.

Other predicted changes include a continued and widespread increase in nitrogen levels, linked with discharges of wastewaters and agricultural run off from the land and, to an extent, emissions from vehicles and shipping. The report also flags concerns over the rise in marine invasive species, and highlights that the cumulative impacts of all of these factors will have serious consequences in the rise of extinctions of native marine species globally.

Finally, the report emphasizes that the continuing decline in marine biodiversity will compromise the resilience of marine and coastal ecosystems to the impacts of climate change, as well as their ability to mitigate its effects of climate change. [UNEP Press Release] [Reports Website]