14. Life Below Water
The focus of the global goal “Life Below Water” is the protection of the ecosystems of seas and oceans and sustainable use of marine resources. Marine acidification caused by climate change and pollution of the world seas and oceans as well as overfishing have a major impact on marine ecosystems.
The 2030 Agenda includes the target to reduce marine pollution of all kinds (first target date 2025) and ensure sustainable management, protection and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems (first target date 2020). A separate target is providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.
According to the UN progress report, the condition of coastal waters continues to deteriorate because of both pollution and the introduction of excessive nutrients, which cause algal growth and consequently death of marine life from lack of oxygen. Ocean acidification is caused by higher CO2 concentrations, which affect the balance of carbonate compounds, which in turn affect marine species such as reef-building corals and shelled molluscs. The marine status has been harmed by overfishing, which reduces food resources. For sustainable use and protection of marine ecosystems, it is necessary to review policies and implement strategies. It is important to establish and manage marine protected areas.
The Estonian sustainable development strategy emphasises the importance of the good state of the coastal sea and use of fish stock not in excess of natural regeneration.
The global goal “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” is linked in Estonia with the following indicators of marine protected areas, commercial fishing and coastal water bodies:
- Marine protected areas
- Spawning stock biomass
- Status of coastal water bodies