The nonprofit World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London have jointly determined that industrial-scale overfishing, pollution and climate change have killed half of all marine life over the last 40 years. The Living Blue Planet Report cites that species essential to the global food supply are among the hardest hit, partially due to humans catching them faster than they can reproduce.
Large swaths of coral reefs, mangroves and sea grasses have also died, further decimating fish populations. Statistics show that the family of fish that includes tuna and mackerel has declined by 75 percent since 1970. The number of species is also declining; a quarter of all shark and ray species face extinction. Half of all coral has already disappeared, and the rest will vanish by 2050 if temperatures continue to rise at current rates. “Coral reefs occupy less than 1 percent of the ocean surface, but they harbor a third of ocean species,” says French biologist Gilles Boeuf. The WWF report argues that protected global ocean area should be tripled by 2020 and fish retailers should source from companies that follow certified best practice standards.