This article was originally published on the World Economic Forum


“The ocean represents 99% of the living space on Earth. It provides livelihoods and nourishment for more than 3 billion people, and brings $3 trillion into the global economy each year. Yet, for all of human history, the ocean has been largely out of sight and, as a consequence, largely out of mind. We have been able to see very little of what’s happening in the water, or even on the surface. We have been blithely confident that the ocean is inexhaustible; able to provide all the fish we can catch, and absorb all the waste we produce.

But today the ocean is coming into view with startling rapidity. New technologies powered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) are creating an information revolution that will transform our relationship with the ocean. A rapidly proliferating array of advanced sensors – carried by fleets of satellites, ocean-going drones, fishing nets and even surfboards – is producing a flood of new data. New analytical techniques, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, translate this flow of data into streams of understanding, providing powerful new tools for governments and communities to manage ocean resources – all in a process transparent enough to create new accountability for resource users and businesses.

These capabilities arrive not a moment too soon. The ocean is in crisis. Most of the world’s fisheries have been fished to the limit or beyond. The ocean has mitigated our impacts on the climate – absorbing 30% of our CO2 emissions and 90% of the excess heat we have produced. But the result is that we are making the ocean warmer and more acidic. In 2015 and 2016, record global temperatures drove global bleaching across 70% of the world’s coral reefs. Fertiliser running off our farm fields has created more than 400 dead zones in estuaries and coastal waters. And each year we dump 8 million tons of plastic into the ocean; it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish…”

Read on at: World Economic Forum.