A Vision for Global, Deep-Ocean Stewardship

Sunday, 16 February 2014
Columbus EF (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Lisa Levin , Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA
One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is managing our deep ocean sustainably, for it is vast, remote, difficult to access, and highly vulnerable to disturbance.  The deep ocean covers two thirds of our planet and provides key ecosystem services – sequestering carbon, cycling nutrients, buffering the ocean, and hosting a wealth of habitats, life forms and genetic diversity needed for the planet to survive. As we deplete resources on land and in the coastal zone, there is an inexorable push into deeper water – for fish and shellfish, for energy, and for minerals.  Advanced technology is both creating the demand for resources and driving our abilities to extract them from increasingly greater depths. At the same time the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and in the ocean is changing conditions in the deep sea, with potential loss of resilience.  The growing industrialization of our deep ocean intensifies the need for comprehensive ecosystem-based management that occurs across industrial sectors, in both international and national jurisdictions.  Exploiting the wealth of the deep ocean, while maintaining the integrity of its ecosystems, their diversity, functions and services will require a cross-disciplinary conversation and interdisciplinary research. These must occur at the intersection of biodiversity, climate science, law, policy, and resource economics.  Full stakeholder engagement and a global reach are fundamental to success in this endeavor.