What human activities destroy nature

Our seas are threatened

The oceans are the source of life. Their sheer size and the remoteness of their habitats have protected them and made them resilient for centuries. However, this resilience is increasingly threatened and weakened by a variety of human interference and activities. Taken together, the consequences of these interventions have the potential to destroy the diversity of the marine ecosystem as we know it in the long term.

Illegal and unsustainablefishingpollution, including through plastic waste, and the progressiveDestruction of habitats In coral reefs, shallow seas, open oceans and on the coasts, populations of many species of marine life have shrunk to the lowest levels in living memory. Especially considering theClimate crisis, which puts the sea under enormous stress, there is a considerable danger. What if the health of the ocean is not much different from that of humans: a healthy system can ward off attacks much better - a weakened one is vulnerable and threatens to collapse.

That is why the WWF is committed to the preservation of healthy and resilient oceans at various levels: through political work at national, European and international level, in specific nature conservation projects from the polar regions to the tropics and through public relations work.

IfDiving snorkeling, onecruisecompany or simply onBeachlie and enjoy the sea breeze thatMarine and coastal tourism is a blessing and a curse equally. 60 percent of all Europeans prefer the classic beach vacation and more than 80 percent of US tourists spend their travel budget on beach holidays. The coastal regions, which are heavily used by tourism, are also home to the world's most valuable and sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs, dunes, wetlands and mangroves.

The livelihoods of a large part of the local population, who live directly by the sea and off the sea, depend on these intact marine-coastal systems.The travel sector is the fastest growing economy. According to the UNWTO, 1.2 billion tourists were traveling in 2016 (1950: 25 million worldwide). The annually increasing numbers of tourists not only ensure jobs and prosperity, butclaim more and more of these valuable ecosystemsbe it through the construction of hotel complexes, ports and roads that are necessary for a tourist infrastructure. In order to continue serving the tourist masses, not only must natural ecosystems give way, but vital resources are overexploited. The business-as-usual scenario predicts growth rates in greenhouse gas emissions of 131 percent, drinking water consumption of 152 percent and the generation of garbage and wastewater of 251 percent by 2050.

Are already today Coastal destinations and archipelagos are overwhelmed by the unregulated tourism and do not have sufficient rules and laws as well as the necessary management structures to limit and control the exposure. We are all familiar with the consequences: destruction and pollution of marine and coastal habitats and a dramatic decline in marine species.

  • Travel in an environmentally friendly way

    From planning at home to getting there, what to do on site and choosing souvenirs: We have put together tips for you on how to make the most beautiful weeks of the year environmentally friendly. Continue reading...

Large parts of the seas are in constant darkness. Many marine animals, such as whales and dolphins, but also fish, are therefore particularly dependent on their hearing ability, while visibility is of secondary importance. By aincreasing noise pollution However, the use of the sense of hearing is increasingly restricted:Ship engines, underwater construction work andExplosionsfor oil exploration andmilitary sonar are in many places a harmful background noise, especially for whales and dolphins, which stresses them, changes their behavior and limits the range of their communication. Extreme noise exposure can even be fatal.

Cruel images of oily birds and masses of dead fish lead to the danger of Oil spills at sea again and again drastically in mind. But every oil spill is different. There is a great danger from Tanker accidents out. Examples are the sinking of the “Exxon Valdez” off Alaska or the tanker “Prestige” off the coast of northern Spain. It is not always the large tankers that cause enormous damage. Also Damaged freighters and leaking heavy oil that is used as fuel can cause oil spills and are a permanent danger.

In addition, oil can be over leaky pipelines or drilling rigs get into the water. In this context, the blow-out on the “Deepwater Horizon” oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is unforgettable. At that time, similarly large quantities flowed into the sea as in the largest oil spill to date in the wake of the Gulf War.

But it is not just the major catastrophes that contribute to the oil pollution of the oceans. Oil regularly finds its way into the sea via rivers and one should not underestimate the illegal discharges. To save disposal costs Merchant ships all over the world flush their tanks on the high seas and thus repeatedly cause a creeping oil spill.

  • Oil spill threatens the natural paradise of Mauritius

    The black death has a name: "Wakashio" or in German "Junge Flut" is the name of the freighter that ran aground southeast of Mauritius around two weeks ago. Continue reading ...

It is estimated that 32 to 50 billion tons of sand and gravel are mined worldwide every year, primarily for the production of cement. The mining of sand, gravel and red algae lime (Maerl) for the construction sector represents a direct intervention in the soil habitats and their biodiversityErosion of the sea floor Not only the species and habitats on the affected area are affected, but also in the immediate vicinity. Excess material is dumped back into the sea and also covers stone reefs that are particularly rich in species. As a result, for example, nurseries for fish are lost and other marine animals such as harbor porpoises lose their nutritional basis. In Germany, sand and gravel mining is currently taking place in the “Sylt Outer Reef” nature reserve, which is a crucial feeding and reproduction area, especially for harbor porpoises. The WWF has campaigned, among other things, through a complaint to the EU Commission that sand and gravel mining does not take place in marine protected areas with soil life that is worth protecting.

ExploringDeposits and extraction of fossil fuels such as oil and gas from geological layers beneath the sea floor is associated with great pressures on the oceans and risks to the marine environment. Not only accidents on production platforms are a high risk for marine ecosystems, but also daily production operations continuously pollute the sea with chemicals, oily sewage and toxic drilling mud - also in the North Sea, where there are hundreds of such systems. The stress for sea creatures such as porpoises and dolphins starts with theseismic exploration of deposits by so-called sound cannons, the impulses of which can damage and injure the vital organs of hearing of these animals. The WWF is committed to preventing oil and gas exploration in marine protected areas and decommissioned facilities to be disposed of only on land. For large parts of the Baltic Sea, it was possible to enforce that no oil exploration and production are permitted.

Eutrophication - nutrient inputs from agriculture

TheOverfertilization of the seas is a key environmental problem, especially for our shallow coastal seas. The plant nutrients phosphorus and nitrogen are washed into the sea from heavily fertilized fields. In addition, there are nitrogen inputs from the air from exhaust gases from traffic, heating and industrial plants. The consequences are as fatal as they are diverse, because nitrogen and phosphorus also act as fertilizers for marine plants in the sea: fine green algae overgrow, for example, seagrass meadows and brown algae forests off the coast, which then die off because they lack vital sunlight. In the Baltic Sea, for example, the zone that allows enough light to grow there has been reduced from over ten to six meters in depth.

Added to this in the summer monthsBlue-green algae(Cyanobacteria), which multiply en masse with the help of phosphorus from the water and nitrogen from the air. All of these algae and bacteria sink to the ocean floor after they die, where other microorganisms decompose them with the help of oxygen. In this process, the oxygen in the water and on the sea floor is consumed - large dead zones are created. The nutrients released from the breakdown trigger a new growth cycle. The lack of oxygen in the Baltic Sea regularly leads to a collapse of all bottom organisms in large regions and also to mass fish deaths.

  • Marine protection - no life without the sea

    Our planet is blue - the seas cover around 70 percent of the earth's surface and are of vital importance to us humans. Continue reading...

  • Marine protected areas

    We need more marine protection: The aim of the WWF is a global network of marine protected areas in which all forms of life can survive. Continue reading ...

  • Protection of the coasts

    Coastal residents have been trying for centuries to protect themselves from storm surges and floods and at the same time to gain new land. Continue reading ...