New Online Tool Quantifies Ocean Benefits at Global Scale

Arlington, V.A. USA June 7, 2016 – In advance of World Ocean’s Day tomorrow, The Nature Conservancy and partners launch Atlas of Ocean Wealth, a first of its kind collection of maps and analysis of the ocean’s benefit to people, the environment and the economy. From fish sold in a market or served in a family home, to the invisible influence of a seagrass meadow absorbing some of the world’s excess carbon dioxide, the Atlas shows how our oceans protect us, feed us, and provide us with jobs.

Oceans cover 70% of our planet and support 100% of life on Earth. “Documenting the ocean ecosystem’s influence on our lives, our communities and our economy benefits has never been more important, because we are losing them at an unprecedented rate. The Atlas shows not just that we need nature, but how much we need it,” said Mark Spalding, Senior Marine Scientist, Global Ocean Team with The Nature Conservancy. “Quantifying where ocean benefits are produced will help decision makers and the public better understand the important role our natural resources play in our everyday lives.”

Approximately 17% of the global population relies on the ocean for their source of protein, supporting a $190 billion global seafood industry. Yet research shows fish catches are declining, ocean temperatures are warming, and habitats are disappearing at an alarming rate. Our seas are rising in response to a changing climate, encroaching onto land, threatening some of our great cities and placing hundreds of millions of people at risk from storms.

The Atlas provides government and business leaders, planners and other decision makers access to the largest dataset of information about the benefits of our ocean resources to target and prioritize effort while providing solutions. For example, coral reefs provide habitat and recreational value to our global economies while protecting communities from storms. The Atlas maps their locations, benefits, and offers solutions to protect the ones most at risk.  

“The world’s ocean economy is growing at twice the rate compared to the economy on land and we are continually looking at the ocean for growth and prosperity. It’s important to protect the places most important for fish, carbon capture and breaking waves. We need to understand the ocean to protect it, and we’ve produced a fundamentally new kind of ocean knowledge to help us shape decisions today that will shape the ocean of tomorrow’ said Mark Brumbaugh, lead scientist with The Nature Conservancy’s global marine team.

The power is not just in the data but how the information will transform our coasts and fisheries. The World Bank, Carnival Corporation & PLC, and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are early adopters, providing pathways to integrate this dataset into economic development funding, private-sector investment, and informed management to protect oceans globally.

The Atlas is supported in part by Microsoft, through their Upgrade Your World Campaign.