Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Scientists say by 2050, the world's oceans could fully recover from overfishing, pollution

It won't be easy, but if conservation efforts are doubled around the world, scientists believe the world's oceans could be restored by 2050.

Oceans have been hurt by centuries of overfishing and pollution, but a new scientific review published in the journal Nature found that the oceans are also resilient, and successful conservation techniques have resulted in several types of marine life rebounding. In 1968, there were just a few hundred humpback whales left, but now there are more than 40,000. There are once again thousands of sea otters off of western Canada, and globally, mangroves and seagrass meadows are rarely being disturbed. Scientists also found that slowly, fishing is becoming more sustainable worldwide.

For the oceans to make a full recovery in 30 years, climate change must be fully addressed, so coral reefs don't die and the ocean doesn't become too acidic, and there has to be a renewed focus on keeping farm pollution and plastic out of the water.

"Overfishing and climate change are tightening their grip, but there is hope in the science of restoration," Callum Roberts, a professor at the University of York and member of the review team, told The Guardian. "One of the overarching messages of the review is, if you stop killing sea life and protect it, then it does come back. We can turn the oceans around and we know it makes sense economically, for human wellbeing, and of course, for the environment."