The UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 aims to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development". Achieving this goal will require rebuilding the marine life-support systems that deliver the many benefits society receives from a healthy ocean.
In a recent review we documented the recovery of marine populations, habitats and ecosystems following past conservation interventions. Recovery rates across studies suggest that substantial recovery of the abundance, structure, and function of marine life could be achieved by 2050, should major pressures, including climate change, be mitigated.
Rebuilding marine life represents a doable Grand Challenge for humanity, an ethical obligation, and a smart economic objective to achieve a sustainable future.
Professor Carlos M. Duarte is the Tarek Ahmed Juffali Research Chair in Red Sea Ecology at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), in Saudi Arabia. Before this he was Research Professor with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and Director of the Oceans Institute at The University of Western Australia. He also holds an adjunct position at the Arctic Research Center in Aarhus University, Denmark.