The Pacific Ocean represents almost half of the world’s total ocean area, contains every major variety of marine habitat, and borders the coastline of 50 countries or territories. This vast ocean plays a vital role in the regulation of the global climate and biochemical cycles, and is a central component of the nutrition, income and cultural identity of millions of people from Alaska to Tuvalu.
The huge variety of habitat types, ranging from shallow coasts to the abyssal plains that reach thousands of metres in depth, and including coral reefs, seagrass, mangroves and estuaries, host an immeasurable diversity of organisms. The coral triangle in the Indo-Pacific region is considered to be one of the epicentres of global marine biodiversity, and the Pacific Ocean is believed to have the highest species richness of exploited fish and invertebrates.
Today, this diversity is under threat from an onslaught of human-induced drivers. The Pacific Ocean is facing all six of the ocean threats that are presented in this book – namely ocean acidification, ocean warming, hypoxia (deoxygenation), sea-level rise, pollution and the over-exploitation of marine resources – making it the perfect laboratory to examine the impacts of and potential responses to the complex web of multiple stressors. This case study examines these threats in a regional context to demonstrate that the overlapping pressures faced by the Pacific Ocean present a very strong and urgent case for developing integrated regional policies to address the multiple stressors that are impacting all the world’s oceans.