Hope For The Oceans              
 Crisis Overview

 

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Our Oceans Are in Crisis!     An Overview

It is becoming increasingly clear to everyone that our oceans are in trouble, and that mankind is the primary cause! Even though two-thirds of earth is covered by oceans, and it was long though that this vast expanse of water was indestructible and beyond any harm, this assumption has long proven to be false. Virtually every scientist, environmentalist and intelligent person in the world now agree on this fact, and we are all urged to take action now before it is too late.

One of the latest group of  humans to echo this fact was the  PEW Oceans Commission. In May 2003, this commission submitted to the United States Congress it's report "America's Living Oceans -Charting A Course For Sea Change". This authoritative report, created by this independently appointed prestigious commission of scientists, economists, fishermen and other experts and chaired by Leon E. Panetta, outlines the problems facing America in regards to it's coastal waters, and offers realistic and sound solutions to be implemented by our government. And the sad truth is, similar reports, reaching the same conclusions, would be generated by commissions just like the PEW Commission for every country in the world that wished to do so.

 

The facts are in. Our oceans, it's habitats and it's creatures, worldwide are under assault -primarily  from four different forces: coastal development, over fishing, pollution and poor ocean governance. Without change for the better, these four forces will continue to wreak havoc, grow stronger and eventually we will see more and more species of sea animals and fish disappear, vast areas of the ocean's coastlines turned into dead lifeless wastelands and the possible catastrophic disruption of the ocean's vital role as climate regulator, resulting in climate change that will make anything prior to it in human history to it seem like a spring day in May.

1) Over Fishing: Over fishing is the single biggest threat facing the oceans. More than two-thirds of the world's fisheries have been already fully exploited or over fished. Fleets the world over are now exceeding the ocean's limits, and a number of species have already been fished to commercial extinction. Populations of many fish, including tuna, cod, grouper, marlin, swordfish and sharks are only a shadow of their former populations, and without intervention and enlightened management, extinction will be the end result. The fish of the ocean, irregardless of how fast they swim, are no match for modern fishing fleets, with their sophisticated boats, computerized fish finding sonar and equipment and devastatingly efficient heavy trawl nets, which destroy non-wanted species -including innocent turtles, whales, and dolphins as well as so called "trash fish". 300,000 dolphins, porpoises and whales die an agonizing death each year as a result of becoming entangled in fishing nets and each year billions of unwanted "by-catch" fish are tossed overboard from fishing vessels, dead or dying, because of regulations or lack of markets. This horrific waste is absolutely uncalled for, unnecessary, preventable and immoral!

2) Pollution: Everything eventually ends up in the oceans! Oil, fertilizer, gas, pesticides, paint and hundreds of other chemical that are spilled on the ground, or in parking lots, finds their way as run off into local brooks and streams. From there these pollutants are carried to bigger streams and rivers, and eventually to the oceans, killing fish and aquatic life along the way as well.  Every year in America alone, 28,000,000 gallons of oil from human activities  (driving cars, heating homes to name just two) end up on the ground in parking lots, roads and yards and then in our rivers on it's way to the sea.  And this pollution creates massive problems in estuaries and coastlines where the rivers enter the sea. There now exist in many parts of the world "Dead Zones"  along coastlines,  places where very little marine life exists and the pollution is so bad in some areas the surface of the water has been known to catch on fire. Additionally, many estuaries and harbors around the world  receive so much nutrient rich  runoff that huge algal blooms occur, causing sea grass meadows, kelp beds and other coastal habitats to die. The direct cause is overuse of fertilizer by the farmers of the world, and the end result is the killing of part of our oceans. Another growing source of ocean pollution is certain types of fish farming, where coastal waters near these unregulated  farms are severely polluted with antibiotics, fish waste and other pollutants. And in a sad irony, human caused pollution recoils directly onto our children and those who wish to use the ocean for innocent fun -in America in 2002 over 12,000 beaches were closed due to pollution! Add to this mix, the many oil spills , cruise ship dumps of waste material, people throwing trash overboard and other obvious rapes of the ocean and the pictures gets really distressing.

 

3) Coastal Development: Humanity's  urge to  live near the ocean  has resulted in the carving up of coastlines all over the world for hotels, resorts, housing, roads and fish farms. This development is resulting in wholesale destruction of estuarine and coastal habitats at an alarming rate -wetlands, mangroves, coral reefs, shellfish beds and marshes worldwide are all disappearing almost overnight. All of these habitats are critical and important breeding grounds for many marine species. If we lose these vital ecosystems, then whole populations of fish and other animals will disappear -no place left for the babies to hide and grow! In America alone, marshes that trap floodwaters, filter out pollution and nurture fish, birds and other wildlife are disappearing at the rate of 20,000 acres a year! And this scenario is being repeated all over the world.

4.) Poor Ocean Governance: The world over, there are few or weak regulations in place to deal with over fishing, pollution and coastal development. Without the will to address these problems, things will only get worse for countries that turn a blind eye. In America, with the presentation of the Pew Oceans Commissions report, a step in the right direction has begun and recommendations made to our government for change.  The question then remains however, how do these changes occur, given the unenlightened state and weak, self-serving nature of many of our government officials and those in power. The answer is simple. Visit the links to the left, join one or all of these organizations and participate in their activities and actions aimed at changing the way our government does business. These folks know how to get the job done and are in the front lines.

 


Check out Shifting Baselines for more truth about Ocean Decline

The Fantasy Coral Reef Paintings of Lee James Pantas