The number of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish has decreased by about half in the past four decades, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said on Wednesday.
"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," Marco Lambertini, head of WWF International, said in a statement.
Over-fishing, pollution and climate change had significantly reduced the size of commercial fish stocks between 1970 and 2010, WWF’s latest report indicated.
Based on a study tracking 1,200 species, WWF found a 49 percent drop in marine populations between the same years.
One family of fish, that includes tuna and mackerel, has decreased 74 percent during the 40-year period.
Fish are not the only marine species that are suffering.
"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,” Marco Lambertini warned and added “Profound changes are needed to ensure abundant ocean life for future generations.”
WWF called on global leaders to guarantee that ocean recovery and coastal habitat health figure will be high on the list of priorities, when the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years are officially confirmed later this month.
“We must take this opportunity to support the ocean and reverse the damage while we still can,” Lambertini said.