Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why do oceans need more protection?

Oceans no longer need to be only protected from massive garbage dumping as we have managed to significantly expand the list of critical ocean issues by adding the problems of overfishing and ocean acidification.

Overfishing is already taking heavy toll in many of our seas and oceans but very few countries take this issue seriously. Overfishing can cause big biodiversity loss in our oceans and with less fish in our seas and oceans this will also mean less food for millions of people worldwide that depend on the oceans for their daily livelihoods.

There is only one solution to stop overfishing – the establishment of new marine protected areas where marine life can thrive without being exposed to human interference. Up to now, less than 1.2 % of oceans have been protected, way too little given the current rate of overfishing.

Many marine experts look at ocean acidification as the most critical ocean issue. Our oceans are becoming increasingly acidic with the ever-growing climate change impact and scientists have calculated that under the business as usual scenario our oceans could see a 100% to 150% higher acidity on average, by the end of the century.

Such high acidity of our oceans would cause massive damage to marine life because of its negative effect on calcium carbonate – the material marine plants and animals use to make their shells and skeletons – to dissolve.

Calcium carbonate is not only important for corals but also for much of the ocean’s phytoplankton which plays vital role in marine food chain. The ongoing ocean acidification could have devastating effect on all marine life causing massive decline of marine biodiversity and cause irreparable damage to global fishing industry.

The worst part in the whole story is that the world leaders still do not recognize the importance of these serious environmental issues. In fact, oceans are still nowhere to be found on global political agenda.

Our oceans cover 72% of our planet's surface. Something this big definitely deserves better protection.

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