Only 13 percent of the world's oceans can still be classified as wild because of human interference, warns new research.
The first global ocean wilderness mapping has shown how little is left.
The researchers have completed the first A systematic analysis of marine wildlife around the world
And they said that what they found was not encouraging: only about one-eighth – about 13 percent – of the world ocean could still be be classified as wild.
Their findings, published in the journal Current Biology, also show that the remaining marine wilderness is unevenly distributed and found mainly in the Arctic, Antarctic or in the most remote parts of the southern Pacific.
There is almost no marine wildlife in coastal regions
Co-author of the study, Kendall Jones, a graduate student at the University of Queensland in Australia and the Wildlife Conservation Society, said, "We were amazed how little marine wildlife is left is. "
" The ocean is immense and covers more than 70 percent of our planet, but we have managed to affect almost the entire ecosystem. "
On land, rapid declines in the wild have already been well documented.
But much less was known about the status of marine wildlife, though wilderness areas are crucial to marine biodiversity.
Jones said, "Unspoiled wilderness areas hold massive levels of biodiversity and endemic species and are some of the last places on earth where large populations of top predators are still found."
For the new study, researchers used the most comprehensive global numbers for 1
They systematically mapped marine wilderness worldwide by identifying areas of very low impact, the lowest 10 percent – of 15 anthropogenic stressors, and also a very low combined cumulative effect of the stressors.
To capture differences in human influence across ocean regions, researchers repeated their analysis in each of the 16 ocean regions.
They found big differences in the extent of human impact. For example, approximately 6.2 million square kilometers of wilderness remain in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, accounting for only 8.6 percent of the ocean.
But it's even worse in southern Africa, where less than 770 square miles of marine wildlife are left – less than one percent of the ocean.
The study also shows that less than five percent of the global ocean wilderness is currently protected.
Most of this is in offshore ecosystems, with very little protected wilderness in areas of high biodiversity such as coral reefs.
Jones added, "This means that the vast majority of the sea wilderness could be lost at any time, as technology enhancements enable us to fish deeper and deliver further than ever before."
"Thanks a The warm climate, even some places that were once safe because of the year-round ice cover, can now be fished."
The research team said their findings were an "urgent need" for measures to protect the remaining show marine wildlife.
You said that such efforts require international environmental agreements to recognize the "unique value" of the sea wilderness and set goals for their retention.