The World’s Oceans Are Dying!

Mankind can’t keep treating its oceans like a giant cesspool because the death of the Oceans means the death of us. A study recently released states that the world’s oceans are dying! Mass extinctions of species in the world’s oceans are inevitable if current trends of overfishing, habitat loss, global warming and pollution continue, a group of world renowned marine scientists gave the chilling warning in June.

A variety of problems indicates that a worldwide die-off is brewing on the horizon. The potential loss of species is on the scale of past mass extinctions, according to a group of 27 scientists in a preliminary report given to the United Nations.

The vanishing species – sea turtles to coral- will decimate the ocean’s fragile ecosystem. This is a sobering conclusion when you realize fish are the main source of sustenance for more than a fifth of the world’s population. We are not only dependent of the ocean for food but for the air we breathe as well, the seas cycle oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas created by human activities.

A portion of the problems with the worlds oceans that we were previously warned about, are occurring quicker, than the worst case scenarios that were suggested a few years ago, the report demonstrates.

“It was a more dire report than any of us thought because we look at our own little issues,” Lundin said. “When you put them all together, it’s a pretty bleak situation.”

Professor Jelle Bijma, Marine Biogeosciences, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, says, “Most, if not all, of the five global mass extinctions in Earth’s history carry the fingerprints of the main symptoms of global carbon perturbations” (global warming, ocean acidification and anoxia or lack of oxygen; e.g. Veron, 2008).

“It is these three factors – the ‘deadly trio’ – which are present in the ocean today. In fact, the current carbon perturbation is unprecedented in the Earth’s history because of the high rate and speed of change. Acidification is occurring faster than in the past 55 million years, and with the added man-made stressors of overfishing and pollution, undermining ocean resilience.”

IPSO’s consortium of marine scientists and experts believes that we have a slight chance to change the course we are on and prevent the decline and collapse of the Earth’s Ocean system. If we do, we will save ourselves and give future generations a better chance at survival.

“There is also a pressing need to develop carbon sinks to reduce current CO2 levels in the atmosphere. The current target of 450ppm CO2 in the atmosphere and/or 2oC temperature will not guarantee the viability of some marine ecosystems.”

“Marine capture fisheries are a vital supply of protein for large parts of the world’s population. It is critical that the management of fisheries is improved for the sake of global food security in the future, as well as to mitigate their devastating impact on the Ocean. Improvement of fisheries is complex and demands action on many fronts. Some of these actions include:

  • Reducing the capacity of global fishing fleets.
  • Eliminating harmful fishing subsidies.
  • Introducing rights-based fisheries management practices to give ownership of fisheries resources to fishers and prevent the “Tragedy of the Commons”.
  • Eliminating illegal, unregistered and unreported fishing through improved port-state control of fishing fleets, improving monitoring control and surveillance, and improving systems of traceability of fish products at all levels of the supply chain.
  • Improving international ocean governance, particularly with respect to the management of fisheries. This includes improving the means to enforce international law with respect to fishing (UNCLOS, UN Fish Stocks Agreement) and improving the functioning, transparency and accountability of institutions that are critical to the implementation of sustainable fisheries management, such the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations.
  • Implementing technical improvements in fishing methods to prevent ecosystem-impacts, including the by-catch of non-target species.”

    And finally, “A crisis on a global scale demands a solution of equal magnitude. IPSO believes that Marine Reserves are our single best hope for averting disaster at an Earth System level.”

    “Marine Reserves are the marine equivalent of national parks. Based on the same scientifically-developed model we use to manage terrestrial over-exploitation, Marine Reserves are protected no-take areas. They are the Ocean equivalent of setting aside areas of the rainforest, for example, so that they can continue to create global oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.”

    “By building pockets of resilience, Marine Reserves will allow the Ocean to recover from the stressors we have placed upon it and revert to its natural state, with diverse ecosystems and healthy habitats. As such, Marine Reserves fulfill both an immediate need for protection and a long-term approach capable of managing our Ocean and all of the demands we make upon it.”

  • Russell W. Dickson, lives in upstate NY, and is a Freelance journalist. He has written for both print and online news/opinion pages.Russell holds a B.A. in English, minor Journalism from The University at Albany, Albany, NY. His writing experience spans more than a decade and his work has graced the pages of newspapers, magazines, online news orgs, and political websites in both the U.S. and abroad.