The United Nations recognises 3 March as ‘World Wildlife Day’, and this year, the focus is on marine species and aims to align closely with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14, which is ‘life below water’. The objective is to raise awareness about the diversity of marine wildlife and its benefits to our everyday lives. The programme also aims to ensure that the biodiversity of marine life is preserved for generations to come.
According to the UN website, the world’s oceans and their elements, which include their temperature, chemistry, currents and ways of life, drive the global systems that make the Earth inhabitable for human beings. “How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counterbalance the effects of climate change,” the website said.
“Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. However, today we are seeing 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks overexploited, reaching below the level at which they can produce sustainable yields,” the website further added.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a message regarding the aim of the day. He said, “Marine species provide indispensable ecosystem services. Plankton enrich the atmosphere with oxygen and more than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for sustenance and livelihoods. Marine and coastal resources and the industries they support are estimated to be worth at least $3 trillion a year, some 5 percent of global GDP.”
“Sustainably managing and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems are the objectives of Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Today, ocean life is under severe pressure, ranging from climate change to pollution, the loss of coastal habitats and the overexploitation of marine species. Some one-third of commercial fish stocks are overfished, and many other species — from albatrosses to turtles — are imperilled by the unsustainable use of ocean resources.”