|In an ever changing world in which the marine environment constitutes some 71 % of Earth’s surface, oceans play a significant role in various sectors of human activity.
Seas and oceans provide two thirds of the value of all the natural services provided by the planet (GESAMP, 2001a).
|Animal protein reserve
||The world’s oceans are one of the largest food reserves on the Earth, providing more than 2.6 billion people with at least 20% of their average per capita.
||Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries, contributing a major proportion to the GDP of many developing countries.
||Shipping industry- by 2020, the volume of international trade is expected to triple, according to the NOAA with 90% of it traveling by sea.
||Mining for sand, gravel, coral and minerals in shallow waters and continental shelves.
|Oil and natural gas
||Offshore drilling supplies oil and natural gas, and the offshore industry is expected to grow significantly in the coming years (Stark & Chew, 2001).
||Indeed, the oceans regulate climate, provide a sink for carbon-dioxide and contain life that is rich and diverse and which supports a variety of ecosystems.
Despite the obvious economic benefits, the world’s oceans are being degraded and continue to be threatened by many factors among them:
- climate change impacts
- impacts of pollution
- physical alteration and degradation
- increased pressures on ecosystems from over fishing
- population growth
Against this background there is a great deal of global concern for how adverse impacts on the marine and coastal environment and the goods and services they provide and on which we depend, should be utilized in a sustainable manner. In response, the UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY endorsed in 2005, the need for a REGULAR PROCESS FOR GLOBAL REPORTING AND ASSESSMENT OF THE STATE OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT.