When looking at the sea, we usually do not realise there is a fascinating world down there, full of marine organisms. The variety of living things that exist on earth is called biodiversity. As many marine forms of life remain undiscovered, hidden below the waves of the ocean, the biodiversity in the marine environment is believed to be far higher than on land.
Marine ecosystems are valued for their intrinsic worth and the ecosystem services they provide to human society. These include moderation of climate, processing of waste and toxicants, provision of food, medicines and employment for significant numbers of people (e.g., fishing, aquaculture and tourism). However, marine ecosystems are subject to a variety of anthropogenic threats. Many marine species are currently threatened with extinction, and the health of the ecosystems on which we all depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are facing the ecological emergency of biodiversity loss, one of the most critical environmental threats alongside climate change. Action to address the drivers of nature deterioration and transformative solutions are urgently needed to halt and reverse current trends of biodiversity loss, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) .
As European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “The biodiversity crisis is an important part in climate change. Protection and restoration of biodiversity would not only save the nature for future generations, but also help to tackle climate change, and avoid negative consequences on our food, health and economy. We urgently need to take global action, otherwise, our only chance of seeing nature is in [the] zoos and botanical gardens. That would be a failure of the humankind.” The “European Green Deal” (EGD) is an opportunity to build momentum for these actions and finally put our planet on the path to recovery. Published by the European Commission in December 2019, the EGD provides a roadmap with actions to (1) restore biodiversity and cut pollution, and (2) boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy.
This map of the week shows the number of species and observations per sea region in the year of 2011 based on the information collected by the European Ocean Biogeographic Information System (EurOBIS) and available through EMODnet Biology. These data can be used as baseline information to carry out studies of temporal variation of diversity and associated processes. It is important to recognize dynamics in an ecosystem, as well as establishing strategies for its conservation and restoration. While many of these problems have complex solutions, there are many things we can do in politics, science, and even in our daily lives to secure the sustainable use of marine biodiversity!
The data in this map were provided by EMODnet Biology.