Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ecological problems - Bering Sea

Bering Sea area is faced with many ecological problems and the importance of this area isn't only important from ecological but also from economic point of view since this are provides more than half of the seafood consumed in the United States. This area lies between Russia and Alaska, where western part of this area belongs to Russia and eastern to United States.

This is perhaps the biggest problem of Bering Sea since it's divided on two parts and there's only one ecosystem that needs joined action from both sides which is often very difficult to achieve.

The fish population recorded big decline in last couple of years happened mainly because of industrial fishing and illegal poaching that is practiced a lot in these areas. Huge ships are not only responsible for decline in fish population but also
as they drag their nets on the bottom of the sea, they’re damaging many other marine species, endangering complete underwater habitat that needs all food chain members for its proper functioning. Pollocks, crab and perch population, all recorded serious decline in last couple of years. US Coast Guard and Russian Border service are doing lots of efforts to stop illegal poaching, but this will require much stronger action because of intensity of this problem and well organized poachers.

Indigenous people are also facing many problems: from global warming that is endangering their homes and villages built on already thin ice which is especially problematic in summer time and surprisingly there is also the problem of many toxic pollutants that are found not only in fishes, but in the people too, despite the fact that this area is located far away from heavy industry. This second problem is probably the result of long travel these dangerous toxic made through the atmosphere from Russia, North and South America, and Asia.

Waters are due to a global warming problem much warmer and one part of Bering Sea was even covered in algae blooms because of these unusually high temperatures. Many scientists agree that this problem is much more dangerous for survival of Bering sea ecosystems than the overfishing and illegal poaching.

Marine mammals also recorded significant decline just like some seabirds, all because of the drastic disorder in food chain. Steller’s Sea Lions population has even decreased by 80 % since 1980, mainly because of excessive pollock fishing which leaves little food to them.

Unfortunately so, ecology isn't prime interest in areas of great economic value such as Bering Sea that generates above $1 billion in revenue for US only since pollock is the largest food fish resource in the world. This is the reason why small family fishing ships are making way to ever-larger fishing conglomerates and their excessive industrial fishing. But even these high profits will soon be just thing of the history unless something is done to not only recover fish population, but to restore balance in these specific ecosystems.

Bering Sea - serious decline in pollock population. Pollock is the largest food fish resource in the world.

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