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World's oceans on the brink of collapse

The experts’ panel warned that entire ecosystems, such as coral reefs, are on the brink of collapse, indicating that the next generation may lose the opportunity to swim over coral reefs or eat certain species of fish.

The condition of the world's seas is declining much faster than previously thought, thanks to human impacts such as over-fishing and climate change.

A preliminary report from an international panel of marine experts suggests that the health of the world's oceans was declining more quickly than had been predicted due to the combined effects of pollution, climate change and over-fishing.

World's oceans moving into a phase of extinction
The report is issued by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), an international panel of marine experts who met earlier this year at the first international workshop to consider all of the cumulative stresses affecting the oceans.

The 27 experts’ panel warned that entire ecosystems, such as coral reefs, are on the brink of collapse, indicating that the next generation may lose the opportunity to swim over coral reefs or eat certain species of fish.

A preliminary report from an international panel of marine experts suggests that the health of the world's oceans was declining more quickly than had been predicted due to the combined effects of pollution, climate change and over-fishing.

"We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation," warned the experts’ panel.

"Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effects of climate change, over-exploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the next globally significant extinction event in the ocean," it said.

Human impact to be blamed
The report that will be presented to the United Nations on Tuesday says a mix of overfishing, marine pollution, climate change and other factors are to be blamed for a mass extinction in the world's oceans.

The IPSO scientists say too much amount of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal and other fossil fuels are absorbed by the oceans thus pushing up their temperatures, and increasing acidity of the water.

Pollutants are lethal for sea life
Chemicals and plastics from daily life are also proving lethal for ocean life. The flame-retardant chemicals and detergents are absorbed into particles of plastic waste in the sea, which are then ingested by sea creatures. Millions of fish, birds and other forms of marine life are choked or suffer internal ruptures from ingesting plastic waste.

Habitat destruction, melting of Arctic sea ice, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, release of methane trapped in the sea bed, along with the overfishing are also among a host of factors that are threatening the marine areas.

"As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean the implications became far worse than we had individually realised," said Dr Alex Rogers, scientific director of the IPSO which convened the panel with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

"This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level,” he added. "We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime and, worse, our children's and generations beyond that."

How to conserve marine ecosystems?
The group’s report called for a range of urgent measures to halt further declines in ocean health. The report advises to cut carbon emissions, reduce over-fishing, shut unsustainable fisheries, create protected areas in the seas and cut pollution in order to conserve marine ecosystems.

Dan Laffoley, of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said: "The world's leading experts on oceans are surprised by the rate and magnitude of changes we are seeing. The challenges for the future of the oceans are vast, but unlike previous generations we know what now needs to happen. The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now, today and urgent".