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Global scientists urge for protection of oceans to boost food security, climate resilience

NAIROBI,(The Southern African Times) – Enhanced protection of oceans could provide multiple benefits to humanity that include food security, climate resilience and political stability, international scientists said in a report launched in Nairobi Wednesday.

The team of 26 scientists and economists said in the study published by peer-reviewed journal Nature that a cheaper solution to the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and growing hunger lies in promoting conservation of marine ecosystems.

“It is clear that humanity and the economy will benefit from a healthier ocean. And we can realize those benefits quickly if countries work to protect at least 30 percent of the ocean by 2030,” said Enric Sala, Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic and lead author of the study.

The report, titled “Protecting the global ocean for biodiversity, food and climate,” says that protecting 29 percent of the oceans would secure 8.3 million tonnes of extra seafood, 27 percent of carbon benefits and 35 percent of biodiversity benefits.

It also says that plastic pollution, overfishing and climate change were harming the ecological health of global oceans while exposing coastal communities to the risk of flooding, communicable diseases and food insecurity.

The study notes that industrial fishing has destabilized the marine ecosystem, and contributed to the same level of carbon emissions like the global aviation sector. “Marine sediments are the largest organic carbon pool in the planet and a crucial reservoir for long-term storage,” says the report.

Disturbance to these carbon stores, however, is likely to increase ocean acidification, reduce the ocean’s buffering capacity and add to the build-up of atmospheric carbon dioxide,” it adds.

“Our research provides evidence that the time has come to retire the narrative that conservation is at odds with economic prosperity,” said Jennifer McGowan, spatial planning technical coordinator at The Nature Conservancy. “This must be the time to build prosperous and sustainable ocean economies and this research points out how to do that.”

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