Folder Marine and Coastal Biodiversity


The oceans cover 70% of the planet’s surface area, and marine and coastal environments contain diverse habitats that support an abundance of marine life. Life in our seas produces a third of the oxygen that we breathe, offers a valuable source of protein and moderates global climatic change. Some examples of marine and coastal habitats include mangrove forests; coral reefs; sea grass beds; estuaries in coastal areas; hydrothermal vents; and seamounts and soft sediments on the ocean floor a few kilometres below the surface.

Marine fish and invertebrates are among the last sources of wild food on the planet, providing over 2.6 billion people with at least 20% of their average per capita protein intake. Moreover, the world's oceans host 32 of the 34 known phyla on Earth and contain somewhere between 500,000 and 10 million marine species. Species diversity is known to be as high as 1000 per square metre in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, and new oceanic species are continuously being discovered, particularly in the deep sea. It is therefore not surprising that the genetic resources in the oceans and coasts are of actual and potential interest for commercial uses.

Yet, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the world’s oceans and coasts are highly threatened and subject to rapid environmental change.

Adopted in 1998, and reviewed and updated in 2004, the programme of work on marine and coastal biodiversity focuses on integrated marine and coastal area management, marine and coastal living resources, marine and coastal protected areas, mariculture, and invasive alien species. The road ahead for coastal areas lies in better and more effective implementation of integrated marine and coastal area management in the context of the Convention’s ecosystem approach.


For more information and the COP decisions on this subject:

Text source: Convention on Biological Diversity

PDF themadossier-mariene-biodiversiteit.pdf Download Item only translated in Dutch
PDF dossier-biodiversite-marine-et-cotiere.pdf Download Item only translated in French

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