The impact of economic changes on sea life 

Healthy oceans enhance the well-being of coastal communities by providing jobs and food, sustaining economic growth, regulating the climate, and providing employment and food. Millions of people worldwide rely on healthy oceans for jobs and food, underlining the critical need to sustainably use, manage, and conserve this natural resource. More than three billion people, the vast majority of whom reside in poorer nations, rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. Tourism and fishing, for example, are essential sources of income and employment in many of these places. According to the OECD, oceans generate $1.5 trillion in annual value-added to the global economy, and this figure might rise to $3 trillion by 2030. Healthy coastal ecosystems are critical for economic growth, food supply, and mitigation efforts for global climate change. Coastal settlements are also protected from floods and storms by these structures. 

Too often, however, these have grown without proper consideration for environmental protection and sustainability, creating low paying jobs and leading to biodiversity loss. Climate change, ocean pollution, and overfishing all impact these industries. As a result of rising oceans and atmospheric carbon, ocean acidification poses a threat to the oceans’ balance and production. Finally, the development of the ocean economy is being accelerated by the emergence of new enterprises such as offshore wind energy, aquaculture, and marine biotechnologies. 

Even though ocean resources enhance growth and wealth, human influences have pushed them to the brink. Fish stocks fished at maximum sustainable levels (completely exploited) increased from 10% in 1974 to 34.2% in 2017, while roughly 60% of fish stocks were fished at ecologically sustainable levels (fully exploited) in the same year (FAO 2020). Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing has a significant impact on fish stocks worldwide, but determining the exact scale of the problem is challenging. According to the World Bank’s Sunken Billions report, overfishing and overcapacity cost more than US$80 billion in lost economic

benefits each year. Pollution, coastal development, and harmful fishing methods negatively impact vital fish habitats, jeopardizing fish stock recovery. 

Improved fisheries management, sustainable aquaculture investment, and habitat conservation might help restore ocean productivity and create billions of dollars in benefits for developing countries while ensuring future growth, food security, and jobs for coastal communities. 

Marine pollution threatens oceans from various sources, primarily land-based and activities at sea. Microplastics have been discovered in the food chain, the air, the oceans, rainwater, and Arctic ice. Plastic pollution harms economies, ecosystems, and food security, and evidence of potential health effects, such as the presence of microplastics in our blood, is growing. According to some projections, the overall cost to governments of managing plastic trash between 2021 and 2040 will approach US$670 billion if correct actions are not taken along the value chain. The penalty for inaction will be higher. Addressing plastic pollution demands a complicated, multi-sectoral, and country-specific set of solutions. It entails creating alternatives to single-use plastics or redesigning them to make them more recyclable, encouraging the growth of new industry sectors such as reuse/remanufacture and generating more financially viable recycling markets), and cleaning up ecosystems. 

-Sania Mahabaleshwarkar 

SY .B.Sc Economics

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