Oceans are the cornerstone of life on our planet. They cover more than two thirds of our planet’s surface, produce 70% of our oxygen and are responsible for driving the Earth's weather systems.
Many more species live in these vast oceans than on land. From the ice-bound polar regions to the warm waters of the tropics they are home to an incredible diversity of iconic species such as sharks, turtles, whales and more.
Oceans are also critical for people as a source of food, culture and history. Every year they feed over a billion people and it is estimated that between 10 and 12% of the world’s population relies on fishing and fishing-related activities for their livelihoods.
With more ocean territory than land, and surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, South Africa is home to some of the most productive and diverse marine ecosystems in the world. Over 12 000 species are known to occur in our waters, with almost a third of these species found nowhere else on earth.
From the cold, nutrient rich waters along our West Coast to the tropical reef ecosystems on the East Coast, our oceans support thousands of livelihoods from commercial to small-scale fishing, tourism to transport. With the growing pressures of increasing human populations and encroaching coastal development, the long-term survival of many of these natural systems – and the people that rely on them – are under threat from risks such as overfishing, climate change and pollution.
We are working towards creating healthy and resilient oceans which support abundant biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods and thriving economies. To achieve this vision WWF engages with governments, business and civil society to develop an integrated approach towards how we look after our oceans – one which recognises the importance of both ocean stewardship and sustainable fisheries in creating a world where we live in harmony with our oceans.
Seafood continues to be one of the most traded food commodities worldwide. As a result the fisheries and aquaculture (fish farming) sectors are key sources of employment and income, supporting the livelihoods of a significant number of the world’s population. Read more here.
Our marine environment holds great economic value, with coastal goods and services contributing significantly to South Africa’s gross domestic product. Read more here.
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