Biodiversity' is the name for the variety of all biological life. This includes plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystems they live in. 'Marine biodiversity' refers to this variety of life in coastal and ocean environments. Biodiversity loss has become one of the greatest environmental concerns of the last century, owing to increasing pressure on the environment by humans combined with the realisation that our activities can seriously threaten the future sustainability of marine species and ecosystems. Marine biodiversity in Europe is threatened by the fact that many of the goods and services provided by marine ecosystems are exploited in a non-sustainable way. In some cases, marine ecosystems are threatened to the extent that their structure and function is being jeopardised.
The most serious threats to marine biodiversity are:
• Over exploitation - recreational and commercial
• Habitat destruction and fragmentation
• Non-native species invasions
• Global climate change
Threats to marine biodiversity have widespread social, economic, and biological consequences, the combination of which could threaten our own existence, including: • Economic losses through unemployment and reduced productivity • Dramatic reductions in the numbers of many popular edible fish and shellfish • Extinction of species that might be useful in developing new medicines • Reduced ability of ecosystems to respond to disaster, both natural (floods) and man-made (pollution) • Accelerated global climate change
• Social and political instability
Threats to Marine Biodiversity
There is broad scientific agreement that marine biodiversity is seriously threatened by human activities. According to the US Committee on Biological Diversity in Marine Systems*, the most serious threats to marine biodiversity are: • fishing operations
• chemical pollution and...