Endangered Oceans

We have just published a feature-length report by Daniela Muhawi on the oceans of the world entitled “Our Endangered Oceans.” It is our contention that global warming alarm and the war on CO2 emissions has shoved into the background urgent environmental challenges that require action right now – tropical deforestation, species extinction, aquifer depletion, desertification, genuine air pollution, water pollution. But joining these global environmental challenges at the top of the list are the imminent threats to ocean species and ecosystems.

One of the most compelling reasons to report on the oceans is because it is here that sweeping changes are happening now, not in 50-100 years. The final destruction of the major ocean reef habitats as well as the collapse of major fish populations is well underway. As of 2007, both may soon be destroyed beyond repair, and with every month of delay on the part of the international environmental community the chances dim for our fisheries and reefs.


The encouraging news is this doesn’t have to happen. Where coral reefs have been protected from destructive fishing practices, they have often began to show signs of revitalization within a few years. If overfishing were stopped with some strong international agreements, soon many fisheries would again begin to yield sustainable harvests larger than today’s unsustainable harvests.

With 70% of the earth’s surface consisting of ocean, the myriad of ways they nourish us and nurture vast ecosystems defy easy summaries. Even deforestation is a problem in coastal waters, where the mangrove forests are being cut down. Tsunamis and cyclones can rampage far further inland when mangrove forests are destroyed, as they frequently are to make room for aquaculture. Intact coral reefs also act as effective storm barriers. But the coral reefs are failing – as much from overfishing as from global warming.

CO2 in the air becomes carbonic acid as it is absorbed by the ocean, reportedly increasing the acidity of the world’s oceans to the highest levels seen in hundreds of thousands of years. Increasing seawater acidity eventually becomes toxic to many reefs and other ocean species. This alarming data could well be the most compelling reason of all to be concerned about rising levels of atmospheric CO2.


3 Responses to “Endangered Oceans”
  1. Avilash Roul says:

    Thanks for this excellent article on the Ocean life system. The author has presented well the sorry state of affairs in the Ocean. Once the Common Heritage of Mankind, the Ocean is now severely exhausted, polluted, exploited and being tired of bounce back to restore its past glory. The human activities from land to air through sea has destroyed the Ocean and its dependent life system.

    Demand for international agreements, though the need of the hour, seems to hardly matter. The 1982 UNCLOS (amended in 1994 and so on) has failed to address the marine resources especially the fish stock. The International Whaling Commission could not stop killing of Whales.

    Despite scientific reports and alerts put forward by UNEP or independent research institute on ‘Dead Zones’, predatory fish lost, ocean heritage in danger and so on, the international politics or policy makers are hardly bother about the danger coming in.

    The realistic approach of international politics has been leading to demarcation of Exclusive Economic Zone for countries in international waters to exploit and destroy the EEZ without any legal compensations. The industrialised Northern countries are sending war torn ships to the Southern poor countries for decommissioning or ship breaking which actually pollutes the southern seas and waters. This adds to the already polluted southern seas from the extensive use of pesticides in agriculture land which plunge into the seas water after mixing with rivers.

    Despite the lack of international initiatives, the need is to seriously look into cooperation on regional waters in the first step and then a global cooperation.

    Thanks to Daniela Muhawi for an interesting article.

  2. Colin says:

    I appreciate your efforts – we all need to address the fast deteriorating environmental position.

    Mankind is greedy and his rapacious appetite will continue to see the World under huge pressure.

    Together we can make a difference and I will certainly be trying too.

    Well done!

  3. jeff scherer says:

    CAN THIS ECOWORLD WEBSITE ACT AS A WAY TO INVEST IN LAND BASED FISH FARMING AND TREE FARMS ALL OVER THE WORLD TO TAKE FISHING PRESSURE OFF THE OCEANS BY GIVING DINNERS A REAL CHOICE BETWEEN OCEAN AND FARM FISH.

    PART OF WHY FISH NUMBERS MAY BE DROPPING MIGHT BE COMMERCIAL MUSSEL FARM MUSSELS EATING TINY FISH AND /OR
    PLANKTON.

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