The World Ocean day is a big celebration, however, this year it is also time for us to reflect as individuals, as citizens and as members of a global community. This has been a strange year worldwide, when a Pandemic has pushed all other thoughts from our minds. The 2020 United Nation World Ocean Conference was to be held in Lisbon 2-6 June, but has been postponed.
The second World Ocean Assessment (1), to be delivered in December 2020, focuses on establishing trends in the marine environment with relevance to global reporting needs, such as those associated with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2). Meanwhile, our ocean, seas and coasts are coming under increasing pressure, for example from plastic pollution, from rising temperatures, from acidification and from de-oxygenation. Marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, are collapsing and marine species, from polar bears to sharks and whales, are under-threat. Large areas are now 'dead zones'.
Next year, 2021, will see the beginning of a UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable development (3), a rallying call to scientists to come together and not only study problems but find solutions.
So, what are the challenges scientists face? They include: (i) understanding of interaction among diversity and ecosystem processes, structure and function; (ii) ecosystem shifts, biodiversity and habitat loss; (iii) restoration; (iv) sustainability strategies for human activities in the ocean, including the assessment of ocean health; (v) cumulative human impacts and climate change, as drivers of shifts; and (vi)marine conservation.
Scientists can propose options for management and governance but need societal leaders to take action and make the decisions, commit to implementing these and result in positive changes. Major challenges of governance and social priorities include: (i) meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals, (ii) new methods into decision support tools for policy frameworks, (iii) climate -ready Marine Spatial Planning and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), (iv) transnational observation strategies, (v) engaging society more effectively in ocean science, and (vi) the role of fake news.
CIMA, Centre for Marine and Environmental Research sends best wishes to all marine scientists and lovers of the sea on the occasion of the 2020 Day of the Ocean.
For more information:
(1) Evans, K., Chiba, S., Garcia-Soto, C., Bebianno, M., Ojaveer, H., Park, C., Ruwa, R., Simcock, A.J., Thanh, C. and Zielinski, T., 2019. The Global Integrated World Ocean Assessment: Linking Observations to Science and Policy Across Multiple Scales. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6, p.298. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00298
(4) Borja Angel, Andersen Jesper H., Arvanitidis Christos D., Basset Alberto, Buhl-Mortensen Lene, Carvalho Susana, Dafforn Katherine A., Devlin Michelle J., Escobar-Briones Elva G., Grenz Christian, Harder Tilmann, Katsanevakis Stelios, Liu Dongyan, Metaxas Anna, Morán Xosé Anxelu G., Newton Alice, Piroddi Chiara, Pochon Xavier, Queirós Ana M., Snelgrove Paul V. R., Solidoro Cosimo, St. John Michael A., Teixeira Heliana, 2019. Past and Future Grand Challenges in Marine Ecosystem Ecology. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7, p.362. https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2020.00362