Birds, marine mammals, fish and reptile populations have halved over the last four decades, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report shows.
Some fish species have declined by 75 per cent, and some are at risk of total collapse according to the Living Blue Planet report.
We urgently published this report to provide the most current picture of the state of the ocean,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International.
“In the space of a single generation, human activity has severely damaged the ocean by catching fish faster than they can reproduce while also destroying their nurseries. Profound changes are needed to ensure abundant ocean life for future generations.”
Fish that humans eat have been hardest hit. There’s been a loss of 74 per cent in the amount of fish that are are used commercially, including tuna and mackerel.
“We are in a race to catch fish that could end with people starved of a vital food source and an essential economic engine. Overfishing, destruction of marine habitats and climate change have dire consequences for the entire human population, with the poorest communities that rely on the sea getting hit fastest and hardest,” said Lambertini.
The report shows a decline of 49 per cent of marine populations between 1970 and 2012.
The study tracked 5,829 populations of 1,234 species, making the data sets almost twice as large as previous studies.