London: A panel of scientists has released a report warning that ocean life is ‘at a high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history’.
The report attributed the worse state of our oceans than previously suspected to over-fishing, pollution and climate change.
The impacts, they say, are already affecting humanity.
The panel was convened by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), and brought together experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists.
“The findings are shocking,” the BBC quoted Alex Rogers, IPSO``s scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University as saying.
“As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realized,” he added.
The experts are worried over the changes that are happening faster than thought or expected to be seen for hundreds of years.
These ‘accelerated’ changes include melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, sea level rise and release of methane trapped in the sea bed.
“The rate of change is vastly exceeding what we were expecting even a couple of years ago,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a coral specialist from the University of Queensland in Australia.
The scientists stated that some of the species are already fished way beyond their limits and may also be affected by other threats.
“So if you look at almost everything, whether it``s fisheries in temperate zones or coral reefs or Arctic sea ice, all of this is undergoing changes, but at a much faster rate than we had thought,” Hoegh-Guldberg added.
The report also noted that previous mass extinction events have been associated with trends being observed now, such as disturbances of the carbon cycle and acidification and hypoxia (depletion of oxygen) of seawater.