January 1, 2015
The planet's oceans, seas and coastal areas provide goods and ecosystem services that are fundamental to human well-being, global food security and nutrition, international trade and economic development, climate regulation, storm protection, energy generation, waste absorption and recycling, recreation, and others. Coastal areas are home to a large percentage of the world's population and often depict above average rates of urbanization, economic development and population growth. Yet both globally and in the Arab region, these marine resources are at risk of irreversible damage to habitats, ecological functions, and biodiversity because of overfishing, climate change and ocean acidification, invasive species, pollution, unsustainable coastal area development and the unwanted impacts from the extraction of non-living ocean resources. Putting the uses of oceans and seas onto a sustainable path and adapting to climate change requires concerted and responsible actions across a wide range of actors and economic sectors. A regional approach to the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources is very much needed; what makes the issue more complex in the Arab region is the number of different marine eco-systems in the region. The region includes five main regional marine bodies of water, as highlighted in the Table 1. Each of these seas or oceans is guided by a regional conservation organization or programme, as well as a regional fisheries management arrangement.