Large Marine Ecosystems are important and they need better management

Written by on July 29, 2016 in Policy & Ocean Law
Large Marine Ecosystems. Image credit: NOAA.

Large Marine Ecosystems. Image credit: NOAA.

There are 66 Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) in the world. LMEs are defined as “relatively large” areas of ocean space in coastal waters (near continents) that are approximately 200,000+ square kilometers. They produce about 80% of the world’s fisheries catch and contribute an estimated $28 trillion to the global economy in goods and services annually.

Now that we know what LMEs are and how important they are, here are a few discouraging facts:

  • 64 of the 66 LMEs have experienced recent ocean warming
  • 50% of all fish socks in LMEs are overexploited (too heavily fished)
  • 60% of the world’s coral reefs (many of which exist in LMEs) are threatened by local activities

These numbers were determined by a global assessment on the state of the world’s high seas (open ocean) and LMEs, presented by Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO earlier this month. The results of the assessment show the “deteriorating health and declining resource productivity” in these areas as a result of unsustainable fishing and pollution.

The good news is that the assessment also identified the importance of regional and global management efforts that “should help strengthen countries’ capacities to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources.”

To learn more:

Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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