Life in the oceans provides food, livelihoods, protection from hazards, and inspiration to people throughout the world. The marine fisheries sector alone produced an estimated value of $80 billion USD in 2008, supported more than 35 million jobs, and currently feeds around a billion people on a daily basis.
But marine ecosystems are being transformed rapidly around the globe, and the key drivers of change and their consequences remain poorly understood. This uncertainty stems mainly from lack of systematic study of the ocean’s diverse marine life, especially in the coastal zone. Without hard data, our ability to sustain marine ecosystems, and their ability to sustain us, is compromised.