An international team of experts warns of new threats, such as forest fires and new biodegradable materials, to our sea and coastal areas, according to a study published in the Nature Ecology and Evolution journal.
The study involved thirty experts on marine and coastal systems from eleven countries in the north and south of the world, and from diverse backgrounds, including scientists and policy makers.
Belgian Professor Steven Degraer of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences also took part in the study.
In addition to the known issues affecting ocean biodiversity, such as climate change, ocean acidification and pollution, this study focuses on 15 lesser-known emerging issues that could soon have significant impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems.
These include the extraction of lithium from the deep sea, overfishing of deep-sea species, and the unexpected impact on the ocean of forest fires and new biodegradable materials.
Although some of the problems listed may seem distant, the study is also relevant for the Belgian part of the North Sea, says Professor Degraer.
He pinpoints issues such as the proper management of space-based human activities at sea or the potential change in the nutritional value of fish as a result of climate change.
The main aim of the study is therefore to raise awareness and encourage investment to fully evaluate predicted problems now, and possibly drive policy changes, before the problems have a major impact on biodiversity.