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Oceans in Peril
Protecting Marine Biodiversity
m i c h e l l e a l l s o p p, r i c h a r d pa g e , pau l j o h n s t o n , a n d d av i d s a n t i l l o
W O R L D WAT C H R E P O R T
Oceans in Peril
Protecting Marine Biodiversity
miche l le al lsopp, r ichard page, paul johnston, and dav id sant il lo
Greenpeace Research Laboratories, University of Exeter, UK
l i s a m a s t n y, e d i t o r
w o r l d wat c h i n s t i t u t e , wa s h i n g t o n , d c
© Worldwatch Institute, 2007 Published: September 2007 ISBN: 978-1-878071-81-1 Library of Congress Control Number: 2007935003
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On the cover: Bycatch on an Irish trawler.
Photograph © Lyle Rosbotham
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Table of Contents
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 The Diversity of the Oceans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Dangers of Fishery Depletions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Changing Climate, Changing Seas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Polluting the Marine Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Freedom for the Seas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Figures, Tables, and Sidebars Figure 1. Global Fish Harvest, Marine Capture and Aquaculture, 1950–2005 . . . . . . . . . . 13 Figure 2. Status of World Fish Stocks, 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Table 1. Level of Protection of Critical Marine Ecosystems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Sidebar 1. Effects of Climate Change on Arctic Marine Wildlife . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Sidebar 2. Impact of Climate Change on Antarctic Krill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Sidebar 3. Recent Major Oil Spills and Their Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
The authors would like to extend special thanks to Sari Tolvanen, Karen Sack, Jim Wickens, Oliver Knowles, Sebastián Losada, Daniel Mittler, Martin Attrill, and Mark Everard for their contributions to and/or review of this work. Jennifer Jacquet with the Sea Around Us Project in British Columbia also provided helpful comments on an early draft of this report. At Worldwatch, many thanks go to Senior Editor Lisa Mastny for her efforts in whittling down the extensive text to the target length. Art Director Lyle Rosbotham lent his expert touch to the design and layout and worked closely with Greenpeace staff to select the diverse photos of marine life. Others at Worldwatch who provided valuable input or feedback include Courtney Berner, Bob Engelman, Brian Halweil, Darcey Rakestraw, Patricia Shyne, and Julia Tier.
About the Authors
Michelle Allsopp is a research consultant based at the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, located within the School of Biosciences at the University of Exeter, UK. Michelle obtained her PhD in biomedicine from the University of Exeter and Postgraduate Medical School of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in 1991. She has since written and published numerous reports for Greenpeace over a period of more than 10 years, including recent reviews on the global distribution and impacts of marine litter, on persistent organic pollutants in marine wildlife, and on the science of ocean fertilization. Richard Page graduated in ecology from Kings College, London in 1983. He has worked for Greenpeace for the past 14 years, mainly on ocean protection issues. Richard has a longstanding interest in the protection of whales and other cetaceans and is currently responsible for coordinating Greenpeace’s work to secure a global network of fully protected marine reserves. Paul Johnston is principal scientist at the Greenpeace Research Laboratories and head of the Science Unit for Greenpeace International. He obtained his PhD from the University of London in 1984 for research into the aquatic toxicity of selenium. Paul now has 20 years experience in providing scientiﬁc advice to Greenpeace ofﬁces around the world, has published extensively on environmental pollution, marine ecosystem protection, and sustainability, and has contributed to numerous expert groups and committees, including the recently concluded GESAMP Working Group on sources of oil to the marine environment. David Santillo is a senior scientist with the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, with more than 10 years experience in providing analytical support and scientiﬁc advice to Greenpeace ofﬁces worldwide. David is a marine and freshwater biologist who obtained his PhD from the University of London in 1993 for research into nutrient uptake by oceanic plankton. Aside from publishing papers and reports on a range of science and science policy issues, David has represented Greenpeace at various international treaties aimed at protecting the oceans over many years, including more than a decade as an observer within the London Convention.
O C E A N S
P E R I L
w w w. w o r l d w a t c h . o r g
it also destroys deep-water coral reefs and other rich habitats that nurture the ﬁsh we do want to catch. Consider marine reserves. we face a growing shortage of this once-bountiful food source. “Current presumptions that favor freedom to ﬁsh and freedom of the seas will need to be replaced with the new concept of freedom for the seas. Through our research and analysis. the differences between “good” and “bad” seafood are many. can provide healthy seafood without any feeds. most recently in Catch of the Day (2006) and Happier Meals (2005). Oceans in Peril: Protecting Marine Biodiversity. The good news is that there is a way out of this predicament. ﬁsh farming that focuses on large. just one element of a new “ecosystem approach” to managing the seas that is critical to protecting the oceans for future generations.1 percent of the oceans is fully protected. scientists. It’s a simple change in perception. hooks. Alternatively. ﬂeets are forced to probe farther and deeper to ﬁnd their targets. scallops. which make swaths of the oceans off-limits to damaging human activities. we can obtain more from these life-supporting waters while also maintaining healthy and diverse marine ecosystems. The freedom they speak of is essentially freedom from human exploitation—from nets. we have sought to illustrate that feed- A ing ourselves doesn’t have to come at the expense of a healthy environment. —Brian Halweil. This is a key message of this latest Worldwatch report. Fishing subsidies are so bloated that roughly a third of the global ﬂeet is considered unnecessary. can protect whole ecosystems and enable ﬁsh and other species to recover and ﬂourish. But currently. such as clams. These reserves. Worldwatch Institute w w w. As this paper demonstrates. Just as nutritionists are discovering how healthy and beneﬁcial seafood really is. For example. This surprising conclusion.Preface nyone familiar with the state of the world’s oceans would have a hard time feeling optimistic. Just as meat that originates in a factory farm is different from meat that comes from animals raised on pasture. Destructive bottom trawling not only catches tons of unwanted species. and knives—and the freedom to heal from past overuses. trawlers. activists. and other mollusks. the diversity of sea life is fading. but the ramiﬁcations couldn’t be more important. By treating the oceans with more respect and by using them more wisely. Yet we continue to invest in wasteful and shortsighted ﬁshing techniques. raising ﬁsh that is low in the food chain. From coral reefs overwhelmed by coastal runoff to tiny but ecologically vital plankton that are suffering from climate change. reached by the report’s authors—a team of scientists with Greenpeace Research Laboratories in the United Kingdom—complements work that Worldwatch’s own food and agriculture team has undertaken over the last decade. w o r l d w a t c h . And as nearshore ﬁsh populations collapse. only about 0. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 5 .” write the authors of Oceans in Peril. carnivorous species like salmon and tuna consumes many times more ﬁsh in the form of feed than it yields for human consumption. dredges. and the ﬁshing industry itself are already showing what a shift in perspective—and in governmental policies—can mean for the oceans.
such as ﬁshing or coastal development. Many policymakers and scientists now agree that we must adopt a radical new approach to managing the seas—one that is precautionary in nature and has the protection of the whole marine ecosystem as its primary objective. The burden of proof must be placed on those who want to undertake activities. use of destructive ﬁshing methods. and commercial aquaculture. An ecosystem approach is also precautionary in nature. An ecosystem approach promotes both conservation and the sustainable use of marine O C E A N S I N P E R I L resources in an equitable way. rather than being allowed to expand as demographic and market forces dictate. Essential to solving these problems will be more equitable and sustainable management of the oceans as well as stronger protection of marine ecosystems through a well-enforced network of marine reserves. largely due to our growing appetite for seafood. Paramount to the application of this approach is the establishment of networks of fully protected marine reserves—in essence. w w w. This “ecosystem approach” is vital if we are to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations. “national parks” of the sea. o r g 6 .Summary U niquely among the universe’s known planets. This is radically different from the current practice. 76 percent of the world’s ﬁsh stocks are fully exploited or overexploited. It is a holistic approach that considers environmental protection and marine management together. Demands on marine resources must be managed within the limits of what the ecosystem can provide indefinitely. They cover 70 percent of its surface and are home to a myriad of amazing and beautiful creatures. climate change and the related acidiﬁcation of the oceans is already having an impact on some marine ecosystems. an ecosystem approach requires the sustainable management of ﬁsheries and other resources. meaning that a lack of knowledge should not excuse decision-makers from taking action. Life almost certainly originated in the oceans. to show that these activities will not harm the marine environment. The activities through which humans threaten marine life include overﬁshing. where most ﬁsheries management measures focus simply on single species and do not consider the role of these species in the wider ecosystem. An ecosystem approach requires protection at the level of the whole ecosystem. In addition. Presently. current presumptions that favor freedom to ﬁsh and freedom of the seas will need to be replaced with the new concept of freedom for the seas. In other words. rather than as two separate and mutually exclusive goals. Outside of the reserves. Current ﬁsheries management regimes contribute to the widespread market-driven degradation of the oceans by failing to implement and enforce adequate protective measures. but rather lead them to err on the side of caution. the Earth is a sphere dominated by watery oceans. w o r l d w a t c h . yet the biological diversity of marine habitats is threatened by the activities of one largely land-based species: us. and many species have been severely depleted. They also beneﬁt ﬁsheries by allowing for spillover of ﬁsh and larvae or eggs from the reserve into adjacent ﬁshing grounds. These provide protection of whole ecosystems and enable biodiversity to both recover and ﬂourish. pollution.
sea stars.The Diversity of the Oceans F ar from being watery voids. © NOAA and MBARI/Greenpeace w w w. *Endnotes are grouped by section and begin on page 38. Davidson Seamount. mollusks. mangroves.650 known species of bottom-dwelling deep-sea ﬁsh. and sponges. only one phylum occurs exclusively on land.8 Undersea mountains rising to 1. mainly of mud ﬂats. such as lowland tropical rain forests. and specialized coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs. may have levels of species diversity similar to the richest terrestrial ecosystems. mollusks. They cover 70 percent of the planet’s surface and provide shelter and food for some 210. o r g 7 . crustaceans. including visually striking corals. Pacific Ocean.11 Many ﬁsh species are also associated with seamounts. and 5 are nearly so. brittle stars. However. †Units of measure throughout this report are metric unless common usage dictates otherwise. and bristle worms.2 In contrast.9 Because enhanced currents carry a ﬂow of food particles to the mounts. the open ocean. The Deep Sea The deep sea. such as coral reefs. The most diverse marine ecosystems. including worms.3 This diversity is distributed among differing habitats including the deep sea. near-freezing temperatures.2 kilometers in depth.5 About 50 percent of the deep-sea ﬂoor is an abyssal plain. 32 occur in the sea. the Earth’s oceans are home to a rich and colorful variety of life.1 * Of the 33 animal phyla that exist worldwide.000 meters or more above the sea ﬂoor appear to host a particularly wide diversity of deep-sea life.10 Other invertebrates present include crustaceans. sponges. and jellyﬁsh to some 2. it supports a surprisingly high diversity of life.6 Deep-sea sediments are home to an even higher diversity of small animals. they tend to be dominated by ﬁlter or suspension feeders. averaging 3. on which are superimposed trenches and other features that provide habitat for creatures ranging from sea stars. w o r l d w a t c h .000 seamounts worldwide. comprises nearly all of the oceans’ extent except for the shallow continental shelves next to the Earth’s landmasses.000 known species.000 to as high as 10 million.7 Estimates of the total number of undescribed species in the deep sea range from 500. 15 are exclusively marine. and seagrasses. sea urchins. and scarce energetic supplies. and tiny single-celled organisms known as Foraminifera. some of which form huge O C E A N S I N P E R I L Crab on sponge. anemones. animal life has only been studied on some 230 of the estimated 50.4† Despite its darkness.
28 Vent environments also support among the highest levels of microbial diversity on the planet. and seabed mining.000kilometer seam of geological activity.30 One specialized w w w. methane. often very acidic.22 Hundreds.18 Stocks of pelagic armorhead over Paciﬁc seamounts northwest of Hawaii have been depleted to the point of commercial extinction in less than 20 years. despite their seemingly hostile environment. of vent sites may exist along the ridges. as were 31–36 percent of species in seamounts south of New Caledonia. a 60. In a study off southern Tasmania. but only an estimated 10 percent of the system has been explored for hydrothermal activity.” 14 New species have been found on nearly every seamount studied. if not thousands. The ﬂuid from vents is hot (up to 407 degrees Celsius). many seamount species are especially vulnerable to depletion.16 Because of their endemism. scientiﬁc research. between 24 and 43 percent of the invertebrate species collected were new to science.The Diversity of the Oceans aggregations. 2. High biological diversity is also a feature of hydrothermal vents on the sea bottom. o r g A dense bed of hydrothermal mussels and shrimp clusters around an undersea volcano near Champagne vent in the western Pacific. slow growth.21 Such vents. with the coral substrate and associated community largely removed from the heavily ﬁshed areas. While most vent diversity is attributed to small.17 Seamounts have faced intensive pressure from trawl ﬁsheries—which can scour the ocean ﬂoor with giant nets—since the 1960s. w o r l d w a t c h . marine mammals. inconspicuous animals. as well as several species of ﬁsh. the diversity of species may be relatively low. and long life (from about 70 to hundreds of years). are concentrated mainly along the Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. and the blind vent shrimp.19 A study off southern Tasmania found that heavily ﬁshed seamounts had 46 percent fewer species per sample than unﬁshed seamounts. or species found nowhere else on Earth. On two seamount chains in the Paciﬁc off Chile. one study described 263 different species on seamounts near New Caledonia.12 Migratory tuna.25 Vent animals are unique in that they do not rely ultimately on sunlight as an energy source. Chief Scientist occur in and around these “underwater oases.29 The more-accessible hydrothermal vents are potentially threatened by human activities such as submarine-based tourism. but the abundance of animals is generally high.24 Yet more than 550 different species have been found at the 100-some vent sites studied so far.700 species are known to roughy have been depleted on seamounts around Australia and New Zealand.13 In total. 44 percent of ﬁshes and 52 percent of bottom-dwelling invertebrates were endemic.23 In 1977. and seabirds frequently congregate over the features as well. deep ocean. but rather on chemosynthetic bacteria that live off the hydrogen sulﬁde in the vent ﬂuids. without oxygen. and considerably less total biomass. Bob Embley. Paciﬁc Ring of Fire 2004 Expedition. and stocks of orange O C E A N S I N P E R I L 8 .26 At any given vent site.27 Enormous densities of a giant clam-like organism and a giant mussel have been found near vents of the eastern Paciﬁc. and various metals. which gush hot water into the cold. vent clams.20 Trawling impacts on local reefs were also dramatic. NOAA Ofﬁce of Ocean Exploration. and enriched with hydrogen sulﬁde. Dr. such as tube worms.15 Some seamount studies also report high rates of endemism. the sites tend to be dominated by a few large and visually striking species. NOAA PMEL. scientists discovered that the vents were populated with an extraordinary array of animal life.
36 But in some areas. and comprise roughly a third of tropical coastlines. sustain a large proportion of the world’s ﬁsheries. scientiﬁc research may pose a greater threat to some of the most-visited vent sites due to concentrated sampling and other practices. One 125.000-square-kilometer oceanic front off the coast of Baja in the Paciﬁc Ocean has supported very high landings of swordﬁsh and striped marlin over the past 35 years. animals.39 The ability of corals to construct these massive frameworks sets them apart from all other marine ecosystems. The Open Ocean As in the deep sea. drift algae are under threat from commercial harvesting for food. and chemicals sectors. Coral reefs cover an estimated 284.” 41 As many as 100. though estimates range as high as 1 to 3 million. scheduled for use in 2009. as elongated lines. cooler.31 However.47 Among the ﬁsh discovered were two species of bottom-dwelling sharks that use their pectoral ﬁns to “walk” across the seaﬂoor.48 And new reef species are still being discovered. supporting phytoplankton growth. with optimal habitats characterized by warm. sea cucumbers.000 to 4. oxygen-rich waters. w o r l d w a t c h . They provide vital support for at least 280 species of ﬁsh. and several seabirds. meanwhile. including 24 ﬁsh and 20 corals. Open-ocean features that favor high biodiversity include oceanic “fronts” where cold and warm water collide and “upwellings” where deep. mollusks. jellyﬁsh. nurtured by plentiful sunlight and warm temperatures. are home to some of the richest marine ecosystems. and microorganisms contain unique biochemicals that could be useful in the health. and is also frequented by blue whales.The Diversity of the Oceans deep-sea submersible. and there is currently no legal regime to regulate such activities.32 This and other “bioprospecting”—the exploration of biodiversity for scientiﬁc and commercial purposes—poses a growing threat to the marine environment.35 Drift algae.700 meters and will dredge the seaﬂoor for copper.33 Many plants.34 Upwelling systems.37 The Coastal Zone Shallow coastal waters.000 reef species have been named and described. crustaceans. and seagrass beds. Recent research off the coast of Indonesia’s Papua Province found more than 50 species that are likely new to science. including coral reefs. worm-like animals. commercial ﬁshing. scientists are beginning to appreciate the valuable resources of the deep ocean. as well as from pollution. w w w. occur in more than 100 countries. or as expansive mats spanning several kilometers. is capable of reaching depths of 1.44 An estimated 4. and vessel trafﬁc. and usually nutrient-rich water moves toward the ocean surface.45 Sea turtles and certain seabirds and marine mammals are also associated with reef environments. gold. Scientists are now working with the Indonesian government to protect the area from commercial ﬁshing and destructive ﬁshO C E A N S I N P E R I L 9 .38 They can form very thick limestone structures. which ﬂoat on the sea surface in occasional clumps.000-kilometer-long Great Barrier Reef off Australia. form another important open-ocean habitat. In this zone. While most marine bioprospecting has taken place in shallower waters. dense. many invertebrates. the abundance and diversity of biological communities in the open ocean— away from the coast or seaﬂoor—is only beginning to be understood. and zinc.43 Most corals derive at least some of their nutrition from photosynthesis by algae that live within them. and medicine. four turtle species.300 square kilometers of oceans.500 ﬁsh species inhabit the world’s coral reefs—more than a quarter of all marine ﬁsh species. Other reef-dwelling species include sponges. they have been called “rainforests of the sea. mangrove forests. and sea squirts. o r g fertilizer. livestock fodder. biodiversity is highest at the intermediate latitudes. pharmacology.42 Centers of particularly high diversity are the southern Caribbean Sea and the tropical Indo-West Paciﬁc Ocean. among them island atolls and the 2.40 Because coral reefs are the most biologically diverse oceanic ecosystems. where the most biologically rich reefs house as many as 600 coral species alone.
can increase the run-off of sediments and nutrients to reefs. increasingly. and ﬁsh. reef ﬁsheries provide food and livelihood for tens of millions of people in the tropics and subtropics. 250 in the Tigak Islands of Papua New Guinea. two of the most dominant reef-building corals have largely disappeared as a result of outbreaks of white band and white pox diseases.59 Intensiﬁed urbanization and agriculture. Mangroves grow in the intertidal zone between land and sea and support numerous species as well as w w w. the number of new coral diseases and disease outbreaks has increased dramatically since the 1990s. showing no immediate signs of recovery.48 Of the estimated 30 million small-scale ﬁshers in the developing world. ﬁsh.60 In a study in Indonesia. diversity. a global survey of over 300 coral reefs in 31 countries reported that overﬁshing had occurred on most reefs. sea cucumbers. which supplies export markets. affecting more than 150 species in the Caribbean and Indo-Paciﬁc alone.65 Meanwhile. Anecdotal evidence and satellite photography both suggest that reefs provided valuable protection from the impacts of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami: in Sri Lanka.55 Problems include a decline in coral cover and biodiversity.58 Overﬁshing can remove species that perform critical functions for reef maintenance. and 26 percent were under longer-term threat of collapse. 19–20 for a discussion of coral bleaching. and inputs to cancer drug research. people harvest a large diversity of reef species: for example.62 Coral mining for building materials has caused extensive reef degradation in parts of the Paciﬁc. In 1999. 10 O C E A N S I N P E R I L reducing key ﬁsh and invertebrate species to low levels.64 Fishers often use cyanide to stun and collect the creatures. and invertebrates are also collected for sale to aquarium lovers in the United States. coral “bleaching” as sea temperatures rise.67 (See pp.54 Yet coral reefs are in serious decline globally. reefs subject to such pollution stresses showed a 30 to 60 percent reduction in species diversity. leading to declines in coral cover. a painkiller. seaweeds. And reef organisms themselves have proven useful in pharmaceutical development— providing an HIV treatment. o r g .63 Many live corals. Globally. mussels. with a shift toward ﬂeshy seaweed-dominated ecosystems. some of the most severe damage occurred along coastlines that had suffered heavy reef mining and damage. meanwhile. in turn.51 In total. most depend to some extent on coral reefs for harvesting ﬁsh. elevated nutrient concentrations on reefs.57 Some 50 reef ﬁsh species are now listed as “threatened.” most due to exploitation. such as the Caribbean and southern Florida.The Diversity of the Oceans ing practices.50 A growing threat to reefs is the booming commercial ﬁsheries trade. coral disease.56 The greatest immediate threats to reefs are overﬁshing and pollution from poor landmanagement practices. Increased disease. and the liveﬁsh trade of Southeast Asia.52 Coral reefs also help to shelter beaches and coastlines from storm surges and wave action. As of 2004.) Other rich coastal ecosystems under threat are the world’s mangrove forests. or physical debilitation of corals following repeated bleaching events. coupled in some areas.53 Reefs also support extensive recreational and tourist activities. located just north and south of the Equator. reefassociated ﬁsheries account for at least 10 percent of world marine ﬁshery landings. as species that prey upon the starﬁsh were depleted. reefs mined before the mid-1970s have shown little recovery. and may explain the massive outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starﬁsh on the Great Barrier Reef since the 1960s. reducing light penetration and/or oxygen levels and smothering corals. Europe. and in many areas it is now rare to see a ﬁsh over 10 centimeters long. 24 percent were under imminent risk of collapse through human pressures. and Japan. and 300 around Guam. and other products. some 209 species are taken at Bolinao in the Philippines. crustaceans. leading to serial depletion of large reef ﬁshes and the death of other species. the restaurant and hotel industries. w o r l d w a t c h .61 Other threats to reefs include coral mining and removal.66 In the Caribbean. may be due to greater seaweed growth. and. an estimated 20 percent of the world’s reefs had been destroyed.49 In some regions.
The Diversity of the Oceans protecting coastlines from storms. o r g groves in the Caribbean showed that where coral reefs were connected with mangrove habitat. mangroves help stabilize coastlines and reduce erosion. and Australia.78 Mangroves provide a rich source of nutrients for the many invertebrates and ﬁsh that inhabit them.87 In addition. 260 in Vietnamese mangroves. Nigeria. large areas of forests have been destroyed to make room for shallow. © Greenpeace/Marco Care 11 . such as the milky stork.72 As many as 117 ﬁsh species were recorded in the Matang mangrove waters of Malaysia. O C E A N S I N P E R I L Crystal-clear waters and unique coral reefs have made the Red Sea one of the world’s prime diving destinations.77 Loss of mangroves can cause inland saltwater intrusion and deterioration of groundwater quality. with the highest diversity occurring in Southeast Asia. and nutrients—an activity that can help the functioning of nearby coral reefs. crabs. the presence of mangrove forests signiﬁcantly mitigated the impact of the 2004 tsunami.84 Research in the Gulf of Mexico and in parts of Asia suggests that greater mangrove cover is associated with higher catches of shellﬁsh and ﬁsh than mangrove-poor areas. Yet despite their importance. China.81 A recent study of manw w w.79 They also export food that supports near-shore species such as shrimps and prawns.73 Mangroves also support several endangered species. and Vietnam. microbes. Yet reefs like Samadai in Egypt’s Tondoba Bay.68 Total loss is estimated at more than 50 percent. w o r l d w a t c h .82 The study also suggested that the largest herbivorous ﬁsh in the Atlantic. industrial forestry. pollution. industrial. roughly 60 percent of commercially important coastal ﬁsh are directly associated with mangrove habitats. as well as reptiles and mammals. Bengal tigers in India and Bangladesh. an estimated 35 percent of the original area of mangrove forests has been lost in the last two decades alone. shellﬁsh. Coastal communities in many developing countries are very dependent upon mangrove ecosystems for sustainable harvests of ﬁsh. down from 75 percent historically. as forests are converted for aquaculture. ﬁsh. In Phang Nga province in Thailand. many marine species use mangroves as nursery areas or predation refuges for larvae and juveniles.70 A total of 69 mangrove species has been documented worldwide. including an estimated 80 percent of all marine species of commercial or recreational value in Florida. and tourist facilities.80 Although few ﬁsh are permanent residents. about a quarter are in Indonesia and another 20 percent are in Brazil. crab-eating frog. and 400 in the Sundarban mangrove forest of Bangladesh. crustaceans.71 Mangrove forests support extensive populations of birds. and agricultural. with mangroves now occupying only 25 percent of tropical coastlines. manatees in Florida. and leaf monkey in Southeast Asia. the rainbow parrotﬁsh.69 Of the approximately 175.76 Mangroves also maintain water quality in coastal zones by trapping sediments.75 In Bangladesh. mangroves have been considered wastelands by governments and planners whose approach has been to drain them and ﬁll them in. In Fiji and India.83 At a commercial level. and rare orchids in Singapore.86 In many cases. organic material. are threatened by overfishing. and fungi. above.000 square kilometers of mangrove forests that remain. may have suffered local extinction due to loss of mangrove habitat. mangroves have been planted to prevent storm damage. livestock fodder.74 In addition to being important habitats. and non-seafood products such as wood. and medicinal plants. the abundance of several commercially important species more than doubled compared to reefs that were not near mangroves.85 Large-scale mangrove destruction is a relatively recent phenomenon. and uncontrolled coastal development. mangroves support many valuable ﬁsheries species.
Texas. and pollution. they have been reported to remain intact even through high wind and wave action during hurricanes in the Caribbean. reduced water clarity from nutrient and sediment inputs. shelter. most commercially valuable species appear to be seasonal or temporary seagrass residents. though the true ﬁgure may be above 1. ﬁshes. and certain waterfowl and wading birds. but only in a few places are measures being implemented to address these threats. corals. contributing to human-induced climate change. o r g . the presence of seagrass beds was reported to have signiﬁcantly mitigated the impact of the 2004 tsunami.101 Threats include dredging operations.The Diversity of the Oceans dyked ponds for shrimp farming.97 Seagrass beds also provide food.94 Like coral reefs and mangroves. Seagrasses grow submerged in shallow marine and estuarine environments along most continental coastlines and represent some 60 species of underwater ﬂowering plants.102 Other dangers include boat propellers and the dragging of ﬁshing nets and dredges across beds to collect shellﬁsh.2 million hectares.99 Increasing coastal development over the past several decades has led to seagrass losses throughout the world.000 hectares of seagrasses by hindering plant growth. sea squirts. worm-like animals. including juveniles of exploited ﬁsh and shellﬁsh.104 A Mediterranean rainbow wrasse swimming over a seagrass bed in the Mediterranean Sea off Turkey. a total loss of 290.103 In many cases. At Laguna Madre.91 Because seagrasses are highly productive and provide physically complex environments. turtles. seagrass declines have been linked to multiple stresses.95 Because of their interlacing rhizome/root mat.93 In addition. seagrass detritus may represent an important food input to coastal ﬁsheries.98 (In fact. sea anemones. w o r l d w a t c h .000 hectares has been documented.89 threatened marine mammals. © Greenpeace/Roger Grace A ﬁnal key area of marine biodiversity under threat is seagrass beds. a recent study showed that seagrass beds in some areas of the Caribbean provided key nursery habitat for the threatened Indo-Paciﬁc humphead wrasse.) Seagrasses are also thought to function as important nurseries for many coral reef ﬁshes.96 In Phang Nga province in Thailand. For example. the manatee and dugong. Over the last decade. including sponges. mollusks.92 Seagrass beds also provide a critical food source for two 12 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. Rising sea temperatures could also alter seagrass growth rates and other physiological functions. increased turbidity from continuous maintenance dredging caused the loss of 14. four-meter-long blades of eelgrass in the Sea of Japan.88 The recent massive losses of mangrove forests have resulted in the release of large quantities of stored carbon.90 They vary in structure from the tiny 2–3 centimeter rounded leaves of sea vine in Brazil’s tropical waters to the straplike.100 Several reports have associated the loss of seagrass habitat with declining ﬁsh catches. crustaceans. and nursery habitat for many marine species. they support a large variety of species. seagrass beds serve to stabilize shorelines and reduce wave impacts.
7 Catch records reveal that between 1950 and 2000. acoustic ﬁsh ﬁnders. Global Fish Harvest.Dangers of Fishery Depletions O ver the past century. or aquaculture. or depleted. In 2005. a sevenfold increase over 1950.) About three quarters of ﬁsh production is for direct human consumption.6 In most cases. areas of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. ﬁshers worldwide harvested nearly 158 million tons of ﬁsh in 2005. Marine Capture and Aquaculture. 2005 Recovering 1 Recovering 1 Depleted Depleted Overexploited Overexploited Fully Exploited Fully Exploited Moderately Exploited Moderately Exploited Under Exploited Under Exploited 0 0 7 7 17 17 52 52 20 20 3 3 10 10 20 20 30 30 Percent Percent 40 40 50 50 60 60 Source: FAO Source: FAO w w w.519 ﬁsheries. accounted for the remainder. the everincreasing demand for seafood has had powerful implications for marine species and ocean ecosystems. ﬁshers have extended their range from the continental shelves to more distant. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 13 . and. and other advanced technologies has led to a massive increase in global ﬁshing effort. The adoption of more powerful boats. with the rest going to ﬁshmeal. Figure 1. southeast Paciﬁc.1 As near-shore ﬁsh stocks have declined. though in some cases environmental conditions have also contributed. w o r l d w a t c h .2 According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). ﬁshery “collapse”—a sustained period of very low catches following a period of high catches—occurred in 366 out of 1. 1950–2005 200 200 Source: FAO Source: FAO 150 150 Million Tons Million Tons 100 100 Aquaculture Aquaculture 50 50 Marine Capture Marine Capture 0 1950 0 1950 1960 1960 1970 1970 1980 1980 1990 1990 2000 2000 Figure 2. and ﬁsh farming. freezer trawlers. ﬁsh oil. Status of World Fish Stocks. for tuna and tuna-like species.) Areas with the highest shares of overexploited or depleted stocks include the southeast and northeast Atlantic. overﬁshing has been the primary cause for the declines. overexploited. deepwater habitats. Marine capture accounted for about 60 percent of the total.3 (See Figure 1. at least 76 percent of stocks were considered either fully exploited.5 (See Figure 2.4 The growth in the global ﬁsh catch has led to declines in the status of many marine ﬁsh stocks. and other products.
9 The decline began in the 1960s. resulting in a simpliﬁed web. herring. the time to recovery may be considerably longer than was previously thought. In addition. the amount of predatory ﬁsh—including cod. white abalone.10 A moratorium imposed in 1992 closed the ﬁshery to commercial ﬂeets. as the average trophic level dropped sharply between 1957 and 2000.19 The ecological impacts of overﬁshing predatory ﬁsh are bound to be widespread and possibly difﬁcult to reverse.000 jobs and severely damaging Newfoundland’s economy. such as tuna.Dangers of Fishery Depletions or nearly one in four. many bottom-dwelling ﬁsh showed little if any recovery—particularly those species typically caught using highly destructive trawling methods. swordﬁsh. Perhaps the best-known collapse involved the Atlantic cod ﬁshery off Newfoundland. The practice of bottom trawling has been likened to forest clearcutting. were the most vulnerable. on the Greek island of Kefalonia in the Mediterranean Sea. open-ocean ﬁsh. the practice of ﬁshing down the food web will reduce the number and length of pathways that link ﬁshes with other organisms.24 Bottom trawling has caused substantial damage to deep-water corals off the coasts of Europe and North America and on seamounts near Australia and w w w.17 Fishers are gradually O C E A N S I N P E R I L A longline fisherman prepares his hooks in the port of Argostoli. Research indicates that “ﬁshing down the marine food web” is happening on a global scale. and stocks ﬁnally collapsed in 1991. © Greenpeace/Jeremy SuttonHibbert removing the larger. predatory. mackerel.14 (Tuna and billﬁsh showed a loss in species diversity of 10 to 50 percent in all oceans. rays. the average size of ﬁsh caught also declined by a meter. dogﬁsh.13 Another study from 2005 found that the abundance of large. and salmon— had declined by approximately two thirds. A less-diverse food web may make it harder for predators to compensate for environmental ﬂuctuations—for instance. and marlin. An assessment of 90 ﬁsh stocks that had suffered prolonged declines showed that even 15 years after the reductions.21 From a marine diversity perspective. In 2003.23 As ﬁshers drag heavy nets and other gear across the sea ﬂoor. there has been a measurable decline in the mean “trophic level” of ﬁsheries catches—the position a species holds within the food web.11 The ﬁshery remains closed and there is little sign of recovery of offshore cod in the area. as well as bottom-dwelling species. shorter-lived ﬁsh that are lower down the web. sea cucumbers. by switching prey if their main food source declines in abundance due to climatic and other changes.20 The direct impact is a loss in abundance of the target species.18 Near Newfoundland. an analysis of 31 species in the north Atlantic revealed that over the past 50 years.12 Losses of predatory ﬁsh may be a good indicator of changes in the oceans overall.16 Aggregated globally. causing a loss of at least 20. this causes massive collateral damage to corals and other features that offer protection and habitat for many creatures.22 Greater recovery was only evident in species like herring and sprat. o r g 14 .15) Other marine species that have undergone large-scale declines due to ﬁshing pressure include many sharks. as occurred with Atlantic cod. and skates.8 Smaller ﬁsheries and stocks. faster-growing ﬁsh could alter the genetic diversity of a population and hence its survival capabilities. which tend to mature early in life and are caught using more selective ﬁshing techniques. had declined by an estimated 90 percent since 1952. selectively removing the larger. and deep-sea ﬁsh such as the roundnose grenadier and spiny eel. w o r l d w a t c h . longer-lived predatory ﬁsh and are subsequently targeting smaller. Although ﬁshery collapses may be reversible.
crustaceans. In 2001. including some in areas where 4. discards accounted for one third of the catch by weight. more than a third of the ﬁsh used to make ﬁshmeal worldwide goes into producing feeds for aquaculture. by burying them under sediment. Norway. loss of these stocks may have adverse impacts on these predators.Dangers of Fishery Depletions New Zealand.31 Industrial ﬁshing.26 Bottom trawling kills seabed lifeforms by crushing them. or ﬁsh in freshwater or marine environments— has been practiced for up to 4. or recreation has developed into an intensive. high-input industry.32 Industrially ﬁshed species are low in marine food webs and are therefore important food resources for many predatory ﬁsh. But over the past three decades. or the targeting of wild ﬁsh for conversion into ﬁshmeal or ﬁsh oil.28 In another study in the Mediterranean. When stocks were at their lowest between 1969 and 1987. Since its beginnings in the 1950s. seabirds. New Zealand. o r g stocks in the Barents Sea in the 1980s. this severely affected the breeding success of Atlantic pufﬁns in the Norwegian Sea due to a reduction in food supply. which have a high age at maturity and are slow to reproduce. an estimated 90–99 percent of Oculina reef habitat has been reduced to rubble. and Spain. and marine mammals. it has undergone a rapid expansion. just 11 countries were responsible for 95 percent of the reported highseas bottom-trawl catch: Denmark/Faroe Islands. and in most years completely failed. and by exposing them to predators. particularly as ocean ﬁsh stocks have declined. shellﬁsh. In the North Sea. and the population has struggled to recover. Lithuania. providing over 40 percent of all ﬁsh consumed.500-year-old reefs exist. is another growing activity that is likely unsustainable.35 What was once a lowinput method of maintaining animals for food. Iceland.37 O C E A N S I N P E R I L Yellowfin tuna awaiting the morning auction at the fish market in Honolulu. w o r l d w a t c h . have disappeared from large areas due to intensive bottom-trawl ﬁsheries. A study on bottom-trawl discards in the Mediterranean from 1995–98 reported that 39 to 49 percent of the catch was discarded dead or dying back into the sea. Stocks of the tuna are destined to be critically low within three years if fishing of the species continues unabated.34 Aquaculture—the farming of seaweed. skates and rays. bottom-trawling catches comprised 115 species that were kept for the market and 309 that were discarded. Off Atlantic Florida. For example. © Greenpeace/Alex Hofford 15 . Consequently. the search for new stocks has extended into the high seas— areas beyond national jurisdiction—where there is little or no management and little information on the impact of bottom trawling on habitats. Fledgling success of chicks was less than 50 percent in all but three seasons.33 Currently. Although many deep-sea ﬁsheries lie within the control of coastal nations.29 On average. decoration.27 Bycatch— the incidental catch of non-target species— from bottom-trawling ﬁsheries is also high. including mackerel and herring stocks in the North Sea and anchovy off the coast of Peru in the 1970s. and capelin w w w. industrial ﬁshing has been linked to the decline and collapse of several populations of small open-ocean ﬁsh.36 It is now the fastest-growing animal-food production sector in the world. Russia. Estonia. Japan.30 Meanwhile. management of these stocks has been particularly poor. Latvia. with little attention to the impacts of heavy trawling gear on habitat.25 In regions off Norway and the United Kingdom. Hawaii. photographs show giant trawl scars up to four kilometers long. Portugal. overﬁshing induced the collapse of the Norwegian springspawning herring stock in the late 1960s.000 years.
49 • Efﬂuent Discharge. for example.50 Efﬂuent discharges from shrimp ponds into estuaries can threaten ﬁsh communities and cause changes in plankton community structure.38 This is because in some intensive aquaculture systems. Aquaculture for tropical shrimp and ﬁsh has led to the destruction of thousands of hectares of mangroves and coastal wetlands.55 Interbreeding may alter the genetic make-up of a wild population and compromise its resilience to natural environmental change. signiﬁcant pollution has been reported in coastal creeks adjacent to intensive shrimp ponds.56 In 1973. when wastewaters are released.39 Producing carnivorous ﬁsh such as marine ﬁnﬁsh. or predate on native populations. In India and Bangladesh. the catch limit on horse mackerel was too high to sustain stocks. the harvest of blue whiting was unsustainable. Other threats that aquaculture poses to wild ﬁsh populations and marine ecosystems include: • Depletion of Wild Stocks for Seed.5 to 5 times as much ﬁshmeal (by weight) as output of ﬁsh. mainly for shrimp and milkﬁsh. w o r l d w a t c h . which led to the development of resistant bacteria strains that caused disease in the shrimp.43 A study of six industrially ﬁshed species used for aquaculture feed found that most of these ﬁsheries did not meet requirements of sustainability.Dangers of Fishery Depletions While aquaculture as a whole adds to the world’s ﬁsh supply. at higher levels the added nutrients from aquaculture are more likely to reduce species numbers. and trout requires between 2. ground-up wild ﬁsh) is greater than the weight of farmed ﬁsh produced.e. that the Chilean jack mackerel was overﬁshed.52 • Chemical Contamination. up to 160 other shrimp and fish fry are discarded for every tiger shrimp collected. seaweed species being farmed in Hawaii escaped and spread across coral reefs. and capelin and sandeel needed to be managed using a precautionary approach.47 In 1991. the weight of wild ﬁsh used in production is about 20 times the weight of tuna produced. rather than using hatcheries to rear them. the aquaculture industry cannot rely indeﬁnitely on ﬁnite stocks of wildcaught ﬁsh. the industry relies heavily on ﬁshmeal imports from South America. has now become established on almost all northern hemisphere coasts. Chemicals and drugs are often added to aquaculture cages and ponds to control pathogens. Marine aquaculture often relies on the capture of wild juvenile ﬁsh or shellﬁsh to supply stock.59 • Introduction of Diseases.40 For tuna caught and fattened in ranches.53 One of the factors that led to the collapse of the Thai shrimp farming industry in 1988 was the indiscriminate use of antibiotics. salmon.45 The practice also results in the capture of juveniles of other species that are discarded and die.41 And to meet its feed demands. In some cases—as with natural shrimp stocks—this has led to overexploitation. eel.51 In China. salmon and trout escapees may be competing with native southern hake and mackerel. o r g . widely used in aquaculture. marine shrimp.54 • Escape of Non-Native Species. the European salmon-farming industry requires a marine support area equivalent to an estimated 90 percent of the primary ﬁsheries production of the North Sea. 16 O C E A N S I N P E R I L it was reported that 60 percent of total mangrove loss in the Philippines was due to aquaculture. the weight of ﬁshmeal inputs (i.44 It concluded. the farming of certain types of marine ﬁsh and shrimp results in a net loss. leading to excessive plant growth and oxygen depletion. Non-native aquaculture species can spread disease to.60 Infectious salmon anemia and sea lice are both widespread problems in European salmon farming w w w.48 In Thailand. Serious epidemics of two diseases in Atlantic salmon have been linked to movements of ﬁsh for aquaculture and re-stocking. these inputs can contaminate the nearby environment. as a result.58 And the Japanese Paciﬁc oyster. Despite occasional beneﬁts to the diversity of bottom-dwelling species from modest nutrient efﬂuent ﬂows..57 In southern Chile. compete with. every kilogram of shrimp farmed by aquaculture facilities developed in mangroves results in the loss of an estimated 400 grams of ﬁsh and shrimp from ﬁsheries.46 • Habitat Loss.42 As it expands.
w w w. substantial numbers of seabirds. Researchers estimate the annual bycatch of whales. non-target species.71 In the 1980s.5 kilometers—a type of gear that had been killing large numbers of marine creatures— on the high seas.68 While some nations have introduced measures to reduce the number of birds caught. ﬁsheries O C E A N S I N P E R I L In a photo taken from the International Space Station. sunglint reveals the density of aquaculture empoundments on the coast of Liaoning Province. in 2002.72 As a consequence. w o r l d w a t c h . and Orissa on the east coast of India.69 Longlining has also resulted in the incidental take of sea turtles.000 albatrosses as well as petrels. where it has caused losses in Texas shrimp farms and may also be killing wild crustaceans. and sea turtles become entangled or hooked accidentally by ﬁshing gear. a metal grid ﬁtted at the top or bottom of a trawl net from which large animals like turtles and sharks can escape. and sea turtles as well as sharks continue to drown in shrimp nets. it may take decades to see the long-term effects of implementation. and then discarded.S.S.74 Moreover.gov/) 17 . National Marine Fisheries Service worked with the industry to develop the turtle excluder device (TED).62 Many ﬁshing practices can have serious effects not just on ﬁsh.000 loggerheads and 5.61 The whitespot virus has caused multimilliondollar losses in Asia’s shrimp farming industry since the early 1990s and has been found more recently in Latin America and the United States.Dangers of Fishery Depletions and have also affected U.63 To prevent some of this “bycatch. o r g Large numbers of sea turtles are also killed in shrimp trawl ﬁsheries.” the United Nations.67 In total. in December 1992.S. including some 100. and porpoises at over 300. but because sea turtles mature slowly.73 TEDS were required to be ﬁtted into shrimp trawl nets on U. 25 of which are listed as critically endangered.70 Populations of these two species in the Paciﬁc have declined by 80 to 95 percent in the past 20 years. and fulmars.65 Animals are attracted to the ﬁshers’ discards and baits.66 Longline ﬁshing ﬂeets kill an estimated 300. Image Science and Analysis Laboratory.000 and put seals and sea lions in a similar range. northern Australia. placed a global moratorium on the use of driftnets longer than 2. an estimated 50.jsc.000 seabirds a year. longlining is responsible for the deaths of at least 61 different species of seabirds. but on other. there is a danger they could spread to wild salmon.” drowned. marine mammals. ingest the hooks. the U. Longline ﬁshing. dolphins. endangered.000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles drowned each year in the southeastern United States and Gulf of Mexico ﬁsheries alone. the practice of stringing lines of baited hooks across the ocean and setting them at the sea surface or on the seabed is also highly damaging.000 leatherbacks in 2000 alone. and are pulled underwater by the weight of the line and drown.76 For several populations. illustrating the high risk of unmitigated longlining to species survival. shearwaters. farms. and many die as a result. or vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). northeast China. not all ﬁshers comply with the law in the Gulf of Mexico. vessels by 1991. including the highly endangered vaquita porpoise in the Gulf of California and Hector’s dolphin off New Zealand. Each year.64 Yet the problems continue today with illegally placed driftnets and the use of a variety of other net types. most longline ﬂeets still do not employ effective mitigation methods. NASA-Johnson Space Center (http://eol.000 loggerheads and 50. particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.nasa.75 Fishery operations can also kill or seriously injure marine mammals that are “captured. including an estimated 200.
Dangers of Fishery Depletions unreported” (IUU) ﬁshing. and surveillance. IUU ﬁshing is a growing threat to marine diversity and a serious obstacle to achieving sustainable ﬁsheries. and the Mediterranean.25 billion originates from exploitation of the high seas and the rest from the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of coastal states. o r g .83 * Of this. Greenpeace activists board the factory trawler Murtosa in the Barents Sea off Norway in 2005.80 A signiﬁcant—and growing—contributor to both marine bycatch and ﬁsheries depletions is large-scale “illegal.82 It has been estimated that IUU ﬁshing accounts for up to 20 percent of the global catch and is worth $4–9 billion a year. IUU ﬁshers use bottom trawlers and other methods that cause extensive ecological damage to marine ecosystems as well as to the target ﬁsh stocks of regions where it takes place.78 Since 1986.86 Fishers also launder stolen ﬁsh by “transhipping” their catch to reefers at sea rather than ofﬂoading them directly in ports. dollars unless indicated otherwise. which has led to increased competition. there have been 50 reported deaths of the whales. threatens the food security of coastal countries. of which only some 350 animals remain. illegal longline ﬁshing for the Patagonian toothﬁsh is estimated to kill up to 145. at least six due to entanglement. and porpoises are likely to be severely reduced or lost in the next few decades if nothing is done to address incidental capture.” The Togo-flagged vessel is fishing for cod without a quota in the international section of the Barents known as the “loophole. and results in signiﬁcant economic losses.” © Greenpeace/Dick Gillberg pose the single greatest threat to their continued survival.84 IUU ﬁshing results in large part from overcapacity in the world’s ﬁshing ﬂeets.88 In the case of bycatch.89 IUU ﬁshing jeopardizes the livelihoods of local ﬁshing communities.87 As in the legal ﬁshing realm.77 Bycatch also contributes to the poor conservation status of the North Atlantic right whale.85 IUU ﬁshers frequently operate without a license and ﬂy “ﬂags of convenience” to hide their true origins. w o r l d w a t c h . unregulated.90 *All dollar amounts are expressed in U. and 18 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w.81 Operating outside of ﬁsheries management and conservation rules. the Paciﬁc. IUU ﬁshers “steal” ﬁsh from the largely unregulated high seas as well as from regulated areas that have little capacity for monitoring.000 seabirds annually. control. These ﬂags can be bought easily over the Internet from several countries that ask no questions about the legality of the purchaser’s ﬁshing practices. dolphins.S. as well as 61 conﬁrmed cases of entanglement. As industrialized countries see their own ﬁsh stocks decrease and impose stricter controls in their waters. some $1. including moving their activities to areas (often in developing countries) where effective control is absent. ﬁshers ﬁnd ways to evade the constraints. bearing a banner that reads “Stop Fish Piracy.79 Several populations of whales. Affected regions include the Southern Ocean as well as coastal areas of West Africa.
but it can reduce the reproductive capacity and growth of corals. affecting hundreds or thousands of kilometers of reefs. Diploria strigosa. Sven Zea. Small increases of even 1 °C above the summer mean maximum can cause the partial or total loss of these algae and their pigments. o r g 19 .6 Rising sea temperature is thought to be the primary cause of the many and widespread episodes of coral “bleaching” worldwide since 1979.10 Since 1995. The incidence and prevalence of the disease can increase when corals are stressed by above-normal temperatures. w o r l d w a t c h . in the 8. The impacts on corals range from relatively mild (in the case of seasonal bleaching) to largescale mortality. by comparison.5 Climate change could reduce the abundance of many marine species and increase the likelihood of local. with wide-ranging effects on the Earth’s climate systems. so even a small degree of warming could have a negative impact on their physiological functioning and survival. and in some cases global. Islas del Rosario. have occurred over the past 20 years. extinction.Changing Climate.4 Modeling data for sockeye salmon suggest that elevated water temperature could impair ﬁsh growth and increase mortality. The result has been an increase in atmospheric temperatures. levels rose by only 20 ppm. and 46 percent mortality was recorded in the O C E A N S I N P E R I L Black band disease advancing from right to left in coral.3 Many marine organisms already live at temperatures close to their thermal tolerances. and even result in death. the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased from an estimated 280 parts per million (ppm) to more than 379 ppm.8 The bleaching is often temporary. Honduras.2 Research indicates that the global ocean has warmed signiﬁcantly over the past halfcentury and could warm an additional 1–2 degrees Celsius (°C) by the end of this century. and the remaining one-third is from deforestation and other land-use changes. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Universidad Nacional de Colombia/Marine Photobank w w w.9 Six major cycles of mass coral bleaching. increase their susceptibility to disease. Changing Seas H uman-induced climate change is predicted to have profound impacts on the world’s oceans and on marine life. with a pattern of increasing frequency and intensity. causing the coral to turn a brilliant white.1 About two-thirds of human-caused CO2 emissions is related to the burning of fossil fuels. most reefs worldwide have been affected by mass bleaching.000 years preceding industrialization.7 Reef-building corals have a symbiotic relationship with algae that live within them and supply energy from photosynthesis.11 Mortality near 100 percent was observed in Indonesian and eastern Paciﬁc reefs following a bleaching event in 1982–83.
even slight changes could shift their geographical distribution and affect their physiological performance. where ﬁsh have narrow limits of temperature tolerance. Furthermore. w o r l d w a t c h .23 Many marine ﬁsh seek preferred temperatures.22 Unfortunately. recent warming trends in northwestern Europe have led to earlier spawning of the mollusk Macoma balthica.12 The extent of coral mortality appears to increase with the intensity of the bleaching event. providing food for ﬁsh in their larval and adult stages. there have been increases in the abundance of certain algae.16 Unless there is a change in these thermal tolerances. the global prognosis for reefs is unlikely to change unless there is an accelerated effort to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. the thermal thresholds of corals in most areas of the tropics and subtropics could be exceeded by 2030 to 2050. Even if corals are not killed outright by more-persistent 20 O C E A N S I N P E R I L Bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef. but not to earlier spring phytoplankton blooms. Australia. the larvae are now suffering from increased predation by shrimp whose peak abundance time has also shifted. A study of plankton in the North Sea concluded that rising temperatures since the mid-1980s have modiﬁed the plankton community in a way that may have reduced the survival of w w w.17 Corals could cope with the rising temperatures in at least two possible ways: acclimatization. o r g .18 Yet there is no evidence that corals will be able to undergo the necessary changes quickly enough to keep pace with predicted temperature increases. extensive bleaching on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef caused signiﬁcant coral mortality in the hottest patches. In the polar regions.28 Phytoplankton (small plants) and zooplankton (small animals) lie at the base of the marine food web. they may fail to reproduce. and ﬁsh that thrive at high temperatures.14 In some cases.25 A northward shift in the distribution of some North Sea ﬁsh also occurred in response to rising sea temperatures between 1977 and 2001.26 The impacts of sea temperature rise will likely be complex and unpredictable. which in turn is determined by the size and duration of the sea-temperature increase. reef bleaching on a worldwide scale could become an annual or biannual event by this period. As the western Mediterranean Sea has warmed over the last 20 to 30 years. and adaptation.19 It is possible that more thermally tolerant species will become more dominant. © Greenpeace/Roger Grace bleaching. Changes have also been observed in marine plankton abundance and community structure in recent decades. and increasing sea temperature is likely to affect their distribution as well as their abundance.13 In 2001–02.15 As sea temperatures continue to rise. echinoderms. Changing Seas western Indian Ocean after a 1997–98 event.27 This has caused a temporal mismatch between the mollusk larvae and their food supply.Changing Climate. whereby their physiology changes so they are more tolerant of higher temperatures. For example. other reefdwelling species that depend on coral for shelter and sustenance have shown little recovery from severe bleaching events. leading to a decrease in reef diversity.21 The loss of reefs would also affect the estimated tens of millions of people who rely on reefs for daily sustenance.24 Research on a Californian gastropod and a Caribbean coral has shown that both have shifted poleward due to warming.20 Many of the diverse species that exist within coral reef ecosystems worldwide are likely to disappear if corals are removed by rising sea temperature. wherein more-resilient individuals within a population survive and increase in numbers. but no damage in cooler areas.
caused by the expansion of sea water as it warms and by the melting of landbased ice. however. Between 1961 and 2003.35 Even if greenhouse gas concentrations were stabilized immediately. w o r l d w a t c h . it has been suggested that heavily overﬁshed stocks may be more sensitive to climate variability due to a loss in biological diversity. which could have severe impacts on commercial ﬁsheries. indigenous hunting. Climate variability is known to affect the replenishment of stocks with juvenile ﬁsh. researchers have reported a 40percent reduction in the thickness of sea ice between 1958 and the 1990s.50 (See Sidebar 1.46 In the Arctic.32 Also of concern to marine biodiversity is sea-level rise. is responsible for transporting a huge amount of tropical heat to the north Atlantic via the Gulf Stream. the poles have seen particularly rapid warming.5 millimeters per year. There is little evidence. the Arctic Ocean is expected to be predominantly ice-free in summer. and polar bears. driven primarily by temperature and salinity differences. there is abundant evidence that overﬁshing has resulted in signiﬁcant declines in many ﬁsh species. 45 Of all the Earth’s regions. some species that are presently abundant will be restricted in their range. affecting the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. losses from the Greenland Ice Sheet. however.39 Another study predicted signiﬁcant loss of terrestrial habitat on two low-lying Hawaiian islands. reducing this warming effect. though the amount will depend largely on the degree of melting at the polar ice caps. and to intrusion of seawater into estuaries and freshwater aquifers. sea level would continue to rise from thermal expansion. this heat is released to eastward-moving air masses. and ice sheets would continue to react to climate change. During the wintertime. particularly toward the edge of a species’ range.30 On the other hand.Changing Climate.8 millimeters a year on average. Importantly.42 The so-called Great Ocean Conveyor Belt. and ecosystem function. or more than 0. and the endangered Laysan ﬁnch. whales. with resulting impacts on marine habitats and biodiversity.37 By the 2080s. that worldwide stock declines are linked in any major way to climate change. warming the climate of northern Europe. birds. 22. it is possible that climate change could affect the global circulation of ocean water. are now more than double previous estimates.43 Ocean warming and the input of freshwater from melting glaciers and sea ice could weaken or switch off the conveyor belt in the north Atlantic. The loss in Arctic biodiO C E A N S I N P E R I L 21 . Changing Seas young cod.36 Sea-level rise could lead to increased erosion and ﬂooding of coastal areas. this could result in the loss of as much as 22 percent of the world’s coastal wetlands.40 Rapid sea-level rise could also effectively “drown “ coral reefs by reducing penetration of the light required for coral-dwelling algae to photosynthesize.29 The warmer environment may also hamper the reproductive success of cod.44 While the likelihood of this is unknown.47 The mean annual surface temperature in the region is predicted to increase another 4–7 °C by the end of the century. o r g sites for four marine turtle species. affecting wildlife that depends on these habitats. thinning of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be nearly balanced by thickening of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. seals.34 Presently. the global sea level has risen by about 1.31 Fishing pressure and climate change could thus act in concert and reduce exploited ﬁsh numbers below a population size from which they cannot easily recover.48 By this time.38 One study found that a projected sea-level rise of half a meter would submerge up to 32 percent of the beach area on two Caribbean islands that are known nesting w w w. p. the possibility of an abrupt change in ocean circulation and impact on climate is very real. exacerbating existing declines caused by overﬁshing. including ﬁsh. the threatened Hawaiian green sea turtle.41 In addition to raising sea levels.49 This degree of melting will likely have negative consequences within the next few decades for Arctic animals that depend on the ice.) As the warming moves northward.33 It is projected to keep rising over the next several decades. resulting in impaired resilience. and a 10–15 percent decrease in the extent of sea-ice coverage in the spring and summer since the 1950s.
53 22 O C E A N S I N P E R I L The majority of glaciers in the region have retreated over the past 50 years. Earlier break-up of the ice in spring and later freeze-up in autumn would mean a shorter feeding period. including ringed. Canada. herring.Changing Climate. w o r l d w a t c h . walleye. The rising carbon content of the atmosphere is not just contributing to the warming of the oceans. and spotted seals.52 Warmer temperatures appear to have led to retreats of ﬁve Peninsular ice shelves over the last century. and reproductive processes and affect the growth and survival of smaller organisms on which fish prey. possibly due to an altered wintering habitat. Other species including capelin. Ice-living seals depend on sea ice as a birthing. resulting in reduced fat stores. ringed seals. pollock. Polar Bears. Over the past 200 years.5— a reduction well outside the range of natural variation and one that has probably not been experienced for hundreds of thousands of years. and planktonic organisms.) Many bottom-dwelling Antarctic species are particularly sensitive to temperature variation. Other Arctic seals that depend on sea ice are at similar risk. o r g . Climate change and sea-ice retreat will likely bring declines in polar bear numbers. but the bears depend heavily on sea ice as their habitat and feeding ground. These include corals and echinoderms. the oceans have absorbed about half of the human-caused CO2 emissions. Sea ice must be sufficiently stable to rear pups.51 In the southern polar region. with cod.56 (See Sidebar 2. and average retreat rates are accelerating. as their habitat too disappears. Seals. Rising sea temperatures may cause changes in metabolic.58 By 2100. and a concurrent 1 °C rise in summer sea-surface temperatures.55 These changes also appear to be having a negative impact on numbers of Antarctic krill. growth.000plus known bottom-dwelling species would be at risk of decline from a 1–2 °C increase in summer sea temperatures. Source: See Endnote 50 for this section. The study concluded that some populations of Antarctica’s 4. Birds. including the collapse of the Prince Gustav and parts of the Larsen ice shelves in 1995. In a 2004 study. researchers found that a mere 1 °C rise in summer sea temperatures impaired the biological functioning of three species of mollusk. which is closely associated with sea ice. The most sensitive species to climate change are potentially those with narrow food or habitat requirements. a key species in the Southern Ocean food web and an important food source for the penguins. Effects of Climate Change on Arctic Marine Wildlife Fish. together with certain crustaceans. lowering the pH of the ocean by about 0.5 weeks earlier than it did 30 years ago. Arctic seabirds are likely to be affected mostly by changes in their prey. Females with lower fat stores are likely to produce fewer cubs and have smaller cubs with lower survival rates. and polar bears have been coming ashore in poorer condition and birth rates have declined. A recent study at the South Orkney Islands reported that populations of both Adélie and chinstrap penguins have declined in the last 26 years in parallel with regional warming and a signiﬁcant reduction in the extent of the sea ice on which Adélie penguins depend. versity will likely also result in increased susceptibility to disease.59 Ocean acidiﬁcation could have a major impact on many marine organisms that build shells and skeletal structures out of calcium carbonate. In Hudson Bay. and parasites.57 One scallop species. and resting platform. mollusks. for example lost the ability to swim. Research suggests there has been an 80 percent decline in the gull’s nesting numbers. These structures will become more difﬁcult to produce and maintain and may ultimately start to w w w. and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In the Canadian Arctic. Most female polar bears build their dens on land.54 The warming ocean waters. leading to possible extinction. and some species subsist on ice-associated prey. polar cod. increased rates of egg loss and adult mortality of Brünnich’s Guillemot in the late 1990s have been linked to the increase in mosquito numbers associated with higher temperatures. molting. bearded. pests. and increased glacial melting (with its subsequent effects on ocean salinity) could all signiﬁcantly affect life in the Antarctic. Changing Seas Sidebar 1. but is also making them more acidic. years with little or no sea ice have resulted in almost no production of pups compared to hundreds of thousands in good sea-ice years. reduction of sea ice. records for the western Antarctic Peninsula indicate a rapid rise in atmospheric temperature of nearly 3 °C since 1951. including the ivory gull. and Greenland halibut are likely to have a restricted range and decline in abundance. break-up is now occurring about 2. Continuance of current and projected trends will have dire consequences for the harp and hooded seals in the region. The distribution of Arctic fish will most likely change. it is estimated that the predicted rise in atmospheric CO2 will cause a further drop in ocean pH of 0. and some flatfish moving northward and possibly increasing in abundance.1 unit. Ice loss could also reduce the availability of the bear’s main prey.
there could be no place in the future oceans for many of the species and ecosystems we know today. Changes in Antarctic krill could have profound implications for the Southern Ocean food web. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 23 .61 A report on ocean acidiﬁcation by the UK’s Royal Society concluded that there was no realistic way to reverse the widespread chemical effects of ocean acidiﬁcation or the subsequent biological effects. krill densities decreased by an estimated 80 percent between 1976 and 2003. w o r l d w a t c h . The respiratory processes of ﬁsh and invertebrates could be impaired and body tissues could become acidiﬁed. The decline was found to correlate with the extent and duration of sea ice the previous winter. Krill are also believed to favor cold water. crabeater. In addition. Without signiﬁcant action to do this. Catch of Antarctic krill from an Australian research expedition in 2003. which reduced the surface water salinity. However. seals. Impact of Climate Change on Antarctic Krill Since the mid-1980s. and fur seals would also likely be affected by reduced krill abundance. Antarctic krill also depend on summer phytoplankton blooms as a food source. Lower krill numbers in the early 1990s may have contributed to decreasing populations of Adélie and chinstrap penguins observed since 1990. since calcium carbonate tends to dissolve under acidic conditions. slower growth. Source: See Endnote 56 for this section. and the contribution (by weight) of krill in the diets of macaroni penguins began to decline significantly. a study of plankton community structure between 1990 and 1996 at Palmer Station. including seaSidebar 2. and whales are especially susceptible to krill shortages. revealed a shift in the organisms comprising the plankton to communities less-effectively grazed by the krill. Penguins. It could also affect non-calcifying marine organisms. The change was linked to increased glacial meltwater run-off.60 Acidiﬁcation is likely to have major ramiﬁcations for the biodiversity and functioning of coral reefs and associated ecosystems. Changing Seas disintegrate. Courtesy Australian Antarctic Division grasses and mangroves. significantly smaller populations of Antarctic krill have been observed in the Antarctic Peninsula region. albatross. since the ice provides winter food from ice algae and is needed for survival and growth of krill larvae.62 It suggested that the only viable and practical solution to minimize the long-term consequences of ocean acidiﬁcation is to reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Antarctica. w w w.Changing Climate. and increased susceptibility to disease. and rising sea temperatures in one of their key spawning and nursery areas could affect populations as well. Baleen whales. decreasing trends in birth weight of Antarctic fur seals and macaroni penguins in the early 1990s were reported. leading to decreased reproductive potential. In the productive southwest Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean.
w o r l d w a t c h . and marine debris.10 While relatively little is known about the toxic effects of BFRs in wildlife and humans. and other products to increase their ﬁre resistance. These substances can contaminate the marine environment. followed by the Americas and Europe. and other chemicals on marine species. and the subw w w.12 Other studies have demonstrated that some BFRs are toxic to nervous and immune systems and can alter liver function. Some studies have indicated a signiﬁcant presence of BFRs in seabirds. polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). resins. the chemicals may be passed from mother to young across the placenta as well as through lactational transfer.3 But others have received relatively little attention despite their known and potential effects on marine organisms. directly kill organisms. Various POPs have become subject to international control under the provisions of the Stockholm Convention agreed to in 2001. o r g 24 .1 nanograms per gram (ng/g) lipid to 53 ng/g lipid. and even in remote Arctic regions. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). in accordance with the hypothesis that PBDEs are endocrine disruptors. including chemicals. and undermine ecosystem integrity. in the deep oceans. in their blubber were statistically linked to levels of thyroid hormones in their blood. textiles.11 A study on wild grey seal pups reported that levels of one category of BFRs. long-lived.4 Between 1990 and 2000.Polluting the Marine Environment A n ongoing threat to marine life is the release of polluting substances into the oceans.5 Asia accounts for more than half of the market demand for the substances.2 Synthetic chemicals known collectively as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are toxic. and bioaccumulative. radioactive substances.000 tons to 310. The study also suggested that some developing countries around the East China Sea that receive large amounts of waste electrical equipment are potential “hotspots” for releasing PBDEs into the marine environment. global usage of the chemicals more than doubled from 145. possibly reﬂecting greater usage of the compounds in that region.13 A study of muscle tissue from skipjack tuna collected from offshore waters of several countries in 1996–2001 found PDBEs in almost all samples at levels ranging from less than 0.6 BFRs have been shown to contaminate marine wildlife all over the world. oil. One example is the brominated ﬂame retardants (BFRs). several of the most worrisome effects may be on the thyroid and estrogen hormone systems.7 They enter the environment through emissions during their production and by leaching from ﬁnO C E A N S I N P E R I L ished products during use or after disposal. electronics. there has been rising concern about the effects of mercury. They can also travel long distances from their point of origin. indicating very pervasive contamination of the marine environment.9 There is also evidence that some of these substances increase in concentration through marine food chains.14 Higher levels were apparent in the northern hemisphere.1 In recent years.000 tons. They have been found in coastal areas. compounds added to plastics. paints. nutrients.8 Research from seals and pilot whales indicates that once absorbed. meaning that they build up in the tissues of ﬁsh and other animals.
22 Despite some removal due to the natural processes of ocean circulation.18 Persistent organic pollutants are just one of the diverse array of pollutants that present widespread and long-term threats to marine ecosystems. the presence of the radionuclide in sediment continues to act as a source to overlying waters. resulting in marked changes in species composition.19 Nuclear weapons testing. this implies that the compounds have even contaminated deep-water oceanic food webs.20 In 1998. due to the longdistance transport of radionuclides on ocean currents.27 Excess nutrient pollution in coastal waters can cause increased numbers of phytoplankton and zooplankton.23 One study detected radiocesium concentraw w w. and can act as potent carcinogens and mutagens.24 The levels of contamination in the mammals decreased with increasing distance from Sellaﬁeld. leading to breathing difficulties for O C E A N S I N P E R I L Looking up an outflow pipe toward the Sellafield nuclear power station. nuclear reprocessing plants. © Greenpeace/Nick Cobbing 25 . They reach coastal waters from a variety of sources. the dumping of radioactive waste at sea. The increase in microbe numbers may cause oxygen to be used up in these areas. substances that have no natural counterparts. mainly in the form of nitrogen or phosphorous. As these organisms die and sink. as well as in mussels and oysters on the northeast coast of Ireland between 1988 and 1997. although discharges from Sellaﬁeld peaked in the early 1980s. though perhaps more localized. and. possibly as a result of new controls on the substances in some countries.26 Plant nutrients. the most prominent sources of radioactive pollution to the oceans are from nuclear reprocessing plants in the United Kingdom and France. has been the largest single source of artiﬁcial radionuclides to the oceans due to fallout. sewage discharges.21 The “footprint” of contamination stretches from the Irish Sea to Arctic waters.Polluting the Marine Environment stances were also present in three sperm whales found stranded on the coast of the Netherlands. indicating that the bears may metabolize the compound and that the levels typically measured may in fact underestimate their total exposure. Sellafield. including agricultural fertilizer run-off. sediment from the seabed near the Sellaﬁeld plant in the UK was found to be so contaminated that some argued it should be classiﬁed as nuclear waste. historically. they are consumed by microbes either deeper in the water or at the seabed. threat is that posed by artiﬁcial radionuclides. Presently. Another signiﬁcant. and via atmospheric pollution from the burning of fossil fuels. the remobilization of contaminated sediments from the seabed acts as a continued source of the radionuclides to waters above. For plutonium. w o r l d w a t c h .17 Some studies show an increasing trend of PBDE levels in marine wildlife over time. PBDEs were also detectable in polar bears from different regions of the Arctic. indicating that the plant was the major source of this contamination. Other sources include operational discharges from nuclear power facilities. are also important marine pollutants. have extremely long half-lives.25 Plutonium was found in seaweed collected from the Irish coastline between 1986 and 1996.16 One study showed a possible PDBE breakdown product. United Kingdom.15 Because the whales feed in deep offshore waters. predominantly between 1954 and 1962. while others indicate that levels have stabilized or even decreased in recent years. o r g tions in tissue samples of seals and porpoises along the UK coast at levels 300 times greater than in seawater.
coastal waters of at least 100 gallons (379 liters) in size. the amount of damage also depends on other factors including the type of oil spilled. often in large numbers. While large spills typically make the headlines because of their dramatic effects. in the Baltic and Black Seas. and routine vessel and vehicle maintenance.”30 The number of dead zones has risen every decade since the 1970s. as well as off South America.29 The process of nutrient overload and subsequent oxygen loss has led to the formation of vast. Galicia. from 1990 to 1999.42 Oil spills can have devastating impacts on the environment.) Seabirds and marine mammals are particularly badly affected: coating of feathers or fur can destroy their waterprooﬁng and insulating characteristics. and in many U. o r g Crude oil spilled from the sunken tanker Prestige coats the beach of Barranin.38 Municipal and industrial wastewater and atmospheric deposition may also be responsible for nutrient pollution in some places. coastal and estuarine areas. but lessmobile sediment-dwelling animals that cannot escape may begin to die. w o r l d w a t c h . leading to death from hypothermia.31 The largest such zones (40. the location of the spill. and. and New Zealand. In the long term. Spain.36 In the Baltic.33 The increasing numbers of dead zones in coastal regions are associated with declines in biodiversity and. Animals may also be poisoned by oil ingestion as they try to clean themselves or if their prey is contaminated. the northern Gulf of Mexico. Japan.43 (See Sidebar 3. offshore drilling operations. Oil-coated shorelines result in dead or moribund animals.S. have led to the demise of some bottom ﬁsheries.39 For example.34 Severe bottom hypoxia linked to nutrient pollution was ﬁrst recorded around 1950 in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.35 Accelerated growth of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone follows the exponential growth of fertilizer use beginning in the 1950s. there is clear evidence that excess use of fertilizers is associated with oxygen-depleted bottom water. lawful discharges of oil from offshore oil and gas installations accounted for the overwhelming bulk of oil inputs from this sector. there were 513 spills from tankers and tank barges in U. the northwestern shelf of the Black Sea.37 Oil spills in the marine environment can be catastrophic for wildlife and have long-lasting impacts on ecosystem health as well. Australia.28 Fish tend to vacate these areas as oxygen levels fall. the southern bight 26 O C E A N S I N P E R I L .Polluting the Marine Environment of the North Sea. continual exposure to w w w.000 square kilometers) are found in coastal areas of the Baltic Sea. with a recent estimate of up to 200. Smaller and less-frequently occurring dead zones occur in the northern Adriatic Sea.S. and weather conditions. oxygen-depleted areas known as “dead zones.41 While the size of a spill is important. smaller spills occur every day from ships.40 In the North Sea. until recently. China.32 Some of these zones are ﬂeeting whereas others persist for a large proportion of the year. © Greenpeace/Pedro Armestre ﬁsh and other marine animals.000–84.
Lebanon. an estimated 2. some populations of sea otters had not recovered from the spill. the most affected beaches lost up to two thirds of their total species richness. debris has been studied in several locations in European waters as well as in the United States. The spill killed an estimated 250. around ﬁshing areas. and stone. the Caribbean. and in Indonesia roughly 690.000 tons of heavy fuel oil into the Mediterranean Sea. clinging to sand. northern gannet. Alaska. and environmentalists have called on the Philippine government to hold Petron and its partners accountable for damages to the environment and people’s livelihoods. and to date Petron has not offered financial assistance in mitigation. Of marine mammals.47 Floating “micro” debris of a much smaller size occurs at high levels even well offshore.49 An estimated 80 percent of marine debris is from land-based sources. Studies report quantities of larger ﬂoating debris generally in the range of 0 to 10 items per square kilometer. On November 13. and badly damaged 1. spilling some 200 tons of oil initially but leaving an additional 1. rock.000 items per square kilometer. O C E A N S I N P E R I L 27 . Cleanup has been hampered by slow decisions on the release of funds by the government. the largest quantities of marine debris were reported for Indonesia (up to nearly 30 items per meter of shoreline) and Sicily (up to 231 items per meter). Initial impacts on marine wildlife included reports of thousands of fish and other species being found dead on shores daily.Polluting the Marine Environment low levels of oil can have a signiﬁcant effect on the survival and reproductive performance of seabirds and some sea mammals. Oil contamination was still evident on Alaskan coastlines 10 to 12 years after the spill.44 A highly visible form of marine pollution is that caused by marine debris. releasing an estimated 63. On the seaﬂoor. Prestige. 2002. The spill also threatened spawning fish and sea turtles that nest on the coast. with the rest coming from marine activities.000 tons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Spain 2002.000 items per square kilometer. and ﬁsh. and the total number of affected birds—including common guillemots. including many seabirds. Far from being just a few pieces of rubbish scattered along beaches. 2006. and both species showed several years of delayed recovery in the spill area. When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in March 1989.000 oiled birds were collected after the spill. Source: See Endnote 43 for this section. turtles. though higher amounts were reported in the English Channel (10 to more than 100 items per square kilometer) and Ambon Bay. On July 14 and 15. A tanker chartered by Petron Corporation sank in rough seas off the Philippines on August 11. Recent Major Oil Spills and Their Effects Exxon Valdez. o r g Sidebar 3. with higher quantities found in the tropics and mid-latitudes than toward the poles. Israeli military strikes hit oil storage tanks at Jiyeh power station on the Lebanese coast.990 kilometers of pristine shoreline. contaminating at least 1.46 Studies have shown that marine debris is ubiquitous in the world’s oceans and on its shorelines. either because they become entangled in it or because they mistake it for prey and eat it. August 2006. w o r l d w a t c h . More than 23. and European shags—was estimated at between 115.45 It is the cause of injury and death to numerous marine animals.800 sea otters and at least 302 harbor seals were killed directly. As late as 2000. In Galicia. marine debris has become a pervasive problem affecting all of the world’s oceans. the oil tanker Prestige sank 210 kilometers off the coast of Spain. July 2006. and as recently as 2003 in some lower intertidal zones. At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris.000 birds almost immediately and had longer-term effects on abundance and distribution.000 and 230. resulting in the release of an estimated 10. and locations in Indonesia.000 hectares of marine reserve. destroyed coral reefs. it spilled an estimated 42. seals. a debris convergence zone. whales.000 to 13. Philippines.000. the highest quantity recorded was 101. In Europe. and in oceanic convergence zones.48 In surveys of world shorelines. during which time the spill spread over some 150 kilometers of Lebanon’s coastline. Much of the spilled oil emulsified and solidified along the shore. razorbills. Indonesia (more than 4 items per square meter). 2006. Cleanup operations were delayed for five weeks due to the war. extrapolation of the data suggests that maximum levels could reach nearly 1 million items per square kilometer. A study of mussels from the Bay of Biscay in 2003 indicated that exposure to toxic chemicals was still causing metabolic disturbances.800 tons on board.50 The sources fall into w w w. Atlantic puffins. Because Lebanese marine ecosystems have high biodiversity. 1989. four major groups: tourism-related litter at the coast (including food and beverage packaging. Large amounts are also found in shipping lanes.000 tons of oil along coastlines in northern Spain and southwestern France. there is particular concern about the spill’s impact on vermetid (marine snail) reef communities. sea lions. in the North Paciﬁc Gyre. though the nearby seabed was also smothered. The spill covered some 320 kilometers of coastline in thick sludge. An impact assessment is being undertaken to assess damage to marine sanctuaries and coastal ecosystems.
and seabirds by drowning. and syringes washed from storm drains or sewer overﬂows). pots. These particles have been found in seabed sediments and suspended in seawater.Polluting the Marine Environment most problems for marine animals and birds. A young boy plays with syringes on a beach in Lebanon. possibly carrying marine animals and plants long distances to areas where they are non-native. and strapping bands from bait boxes). And discarded or lost ﬁshing nets and pots can continue to trap and catch ﬁsh even when they are no longer in use. and wastes from ships and boats (including garbage that is accidentally or deliberately dumped overboard). This phenomenon. and these cause the 28 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. sewagerelated debris (including street litter.54 Marine debris can also act as rafts. o r g . starvation (through reduced feeding efﬁciency). Plastic bags are the major debris item found on the seabed. known as “ghost ﬁshing. surrounded by garbage and other debris that has been washed up by the tide. six-pack rings. affecting conservation of ﬁsh stocks.52 Derelict ﬁshing gear. suffocation. strangulation. and injuries. and bait box bands kill marine mammals. ﬁshing-related debris (including lines. As plastics weather in the ocean.51 Even such tiny particles can cause harm to the marine environment. especially near the coast.53 Derelict ﬁshing gear also damages coral reefs when nets or lines get snagged by the reef and break it off.” can result in the capture of large quantities of marine organisms. they are broken up either mechanically or by sunlight into smaller and smaller fragments. Plastics and synthetic materials are the most common materials found. nets. © Greenpeace/Serji cigarettes. as small sea creatures ingest them and potentially concentrate any toxic chemicals present. and plastic beach toys). w o r l d w a t c h . and eventually into pieces the size of grains of sand. condoms. sea turtles.
more than 4. current presumptions that favor freedom to pursue ﬁshing and freedom of the seas will need to be replaced with the new concept of freedom for the seas. as well as to disposal activities. This can be done most effectively by establishing fully protected marine reserves—effectively. safeguarding ocean life means protecting not just a single species. © Greenpeace/Gavin Newman w w w.4 They are areas of the sea that are closed to all extractive uses. In other words. o r g 29 .1 Moreover. or areas beyond national jurisdiction.5 Currently.7 This is necessary to safeguard against overﬁshing. illegal ﬁshing. and ecosystem approach to promote both the conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment. such as recreational boating.6 There is an urgent need. though many reserves contain core zones where no human activity is allowed at all. precautionary.) As such. may be permitted up to certain levels. passage of shipping. fundamental changes need to be made in the way our oceans are managed. for a global network of fully protected reserves that also includes protection of the high seas. such as commercial ﬁshing and mining. in speciﬁc cases. and.000 MPAs exist worldwide. marine reserves promote the sustainable use of living resources in an equitable way that is underpinned by the precautionary principle. Marine reserves offer the highest level of environmental protection of all marine pro- tected areas (MPAs). (Less-harmful uses. But ﬁsheries management has generally fallen far short of adequate protection for wider marine ecosystems. the Philippines. as well as the complex interactions between species that make up an ecosystem. small-scale. these have tended to be in the form of catch quotas. however. temporary area closures. and other expanding human activiO C E A N S I N P E R I L A clown fish seeks shelter in a sea anemone in the Apo Island Marine Reserve.3 A Global Network of Marine Reserves From a conservation perspective. non-destructive ﬁshing.Freedom for the Seas G iven the many threats to the world’s marine environments. w o r l d w a t c h . many of these have been ineffective because they are either too weak or poorly enforced. most ﬁsheries management has been based on consideration of single species rather that the whole ecosystem of which they are part. While governments have adopted a wide range of well-meaning oceans and ﬁsheries regulations. and limits on ﬁshing effort. “national parks” of the sea. almost all of which are small-scale and coastal.2 What is needed to ﬁll the present void in regulation is an integrated. but the full variety of species and their habitats. When limits are imposed.
13 Marine reserves can result in long-lasting and often rapid increases in the abundance. in areas outside the reserves. suggesting that up to 50 percent of the sea should be protected to conserve viable marine populations. at times.19 Marine reserves can address the problems of ecosystem damage in cases where a species has been depleted by overﬁshing and. and eggs across reserve boundaries.10 Despite the urgent need to provide such coverage. the World Parks Congress. For instance. seamounts. Following the creation of a marine reserve in New Zealand.8 In 2003. the Philippines. remain vulnerable. diversity.Freedom for the Seas ties in the deep sea and open ocean.12 (See Table 1.9 Others have called for an even more precautionary approach. their ecosystems may become more resilient than those of exploited areas. the biomass of commercial ﬁsh species had tripled within the closed reserves. w w w. size.17 At the Soufriere Marine Management Area in St. providing refuges for populations whose distribution is being forced to change as a result of climate change. support ﬁsheries management.16 Marine reserves can also beneﬁt ﬁsheries in surrounding waters as a result of spillover of ﬁsh. w o r l d w a t c h .22 (Ultimately. recommended that at least 20 to 30 percent of all ocean habitats be increases in the abundance of coral trout. After ﬁve years. scientists have suggested that connected corridors of these key coastal habitats be protected together. mangroves. ocean acidiﬁcation. they can help to restore lost predator/prey relationships.) Because of the associated functions of coral reefs. larvae. the major target of hook-and-line ﬁsheries in the region.14 Areas of the Great Barrier Reef that had been reserves for 12–13 years showed signiﬁcant 30 O C E A N S I N P E R I L . established in 1995. biomass had doubled and average catches had increased 46 to 90 percent depending on the size of trap used. an intergovernmental body that meets once a decade to set the agenda for protected areas. potentially mitigating some of the negative consequences. and hydrothermal vents. © Greenpeace/Gavin Newman included in a network of marine reserves. and productivity of marine organisms. after three years of protection.15 Similarly. saw a similar result: after only ﬁve years of protection. an area with over 50 percent bare rock that was being grazed by sea urchins was restored to seaweed beds after populations of large ﬁsh and crayﬁsh (predators of the urchins) were allowed to recover. reefs in East Africa that had been protected for several years had higher richness and abundance of certain commercially important species compared to ﬁshed areas. and many forms of marine pollution is to prevent these threats from occurring in the ﬁrst place. it has taken some 30 years to achieve the current level of ocean protection of roughly 1 percent (compared with more than 12 percent on land). only about 0. o r g Hawksbill turtle in the Apo Island Marine Reserve. secure ecosystem processes. the best way to address worsening climate change.1 percent is fully protected. compared to pre-reserve abundance. and seagrass beds.21 A well-designed global network of reserves could act as a series of stepping stones. and assure sufﬁcient ecological connectivity. however.18 Marine reserves in the Red Sea. including coral reefs. the catch per unit of effort of a surrounding ﬁshery had increased by more than 60 percent.20 Although marine reserves cannot directly reverse the impacts of climate change or pollution or severe physical damage.11 Of this. where a habitat has been damaged through bottom trawling or other destructive activities. and many critical ocean ecosystems. Lucia.
WWF worked with the Azores regional government to have the relatively shallow Lucky Strike and Menez Gwen vent fields designated as MPAs in 2002. the grasses have been on lists of key habitats singled out when sites are recommended for protection. Finally. waters. though greater protection is required for effective mangrove conservation. only 1.33 In 2004.S. governments may be able to use satellite technologies to update ﬂeets about the positions of the designated reserves. renewable energy.23 A network of smaller coastal reserves has the advantage of spreading ﬁshery beneﬁts to nearby communities.S. as well as birds and other animals that risk being killed as bycatch. some 980 MPAs cover 18. Mangroves About 9 percent of the world’s mangroves lie within MPAs. Hydrothermal In March 2003.32 At the global level. a global network of marine reserves should include large-scale reserves on the high seas as well as a mosaic of smaller reserves in the coastal zone that are associated with adjacent.28 The concept of fully protected marine reserves is gaining broader acceptance in both developing and industrialized countries. In cases where the location of such sites is not ﬁxed. and that have high numbers of rare or endemic species. well-managed. U. though implementation has been slow to date. as with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. If local ﬁshers feel a sense of ownership for their marine resources and are invited to participate in siting of reserves.29 And in 2006. certain areas on the high seas. deserve protection because of their high productivity. President George W. w o r l d w a t c h . o r g designated the world’s largest marine conservation area off the coast of Hawaii. Lucia can be attributed to the full involvement of various stakeholders from the planning stages onward. Seagrasses No MPAs have been designated solely for the protection of seagrasses. Level of Protection of Critical Marine Ecosystems Coral Reefs Globally.Freedom for the Seas including by accelerating the transition to clean. creating an area where removal of marine resources is not permitted without a license and approved research plan.000 square miles (363.25 A global reserve network should be representative of the broad spectrum of marine life. In the northeast Atlantic off Portugal. however. and marine mammals. Sources: See Endnote 12 for this section.) To be representative.7 percent of the world’s coral reef habitats. the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development’s “Plan of Implementation” included an agreement to establish a global network of MPAs by 2012 as a tool for ocean conservation and management. encompassing nearly 140. that support outstanding concentrations of animals and plants. the Canadian government legalized the Vents Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents MPA southwest of Vancouver as the nation’s first MPA. turtles. and that are particularly threatened or vulnerable to human impacts. including places that are biologically rich.000 square kilometers) of U. that are important to airbreathing aquatic animals like seabirds. such as upwellings and oceanic convergence zones. parties to the Convention on Biological O C E A N S I N P E R I L 31 .24 Much of the success of the marine reserves in St.27 Temporary and/or moveable reserves could also be used to protect migrating species like turtles that follow predictable routes across the oceans. local chiefs of Fiji’s Great Sea Reef established ﬁve MPAs with permanent no-take “tabu” zones—an important step toward meeting the nation’s commitment to protect 30 percent of Fijian waters by 2020. relatively few seamount sites have been designated as marine reserves or MPAs. Table 1. including relatively undisturbed coral reefs.4 percent of these are within fully protected no-take reserves. Researchers suggest that at least 30 percent of all reefs be designated as no-take areas to ensure long-term protection of exploited fish stocks. Seamounts So far.26 It is also critical to protect areas that are important spawning and nursery grounds. however. Bush w w w. a variety of regional conventions have called for MPA networks in the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas and the northeast Atlantic.30 In Europe.31 Once adopted. a new marine protection law under development in the EU may bring greater protection of regional waters. sustainable ﬁshing areas. they are far more likely to support them. In November 2005. many of which suffer from poor management and enforcement.
General Assembly agreed that some measures should be taken to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems from destructive high-seas bottom trawling. and ecosystembased management approach to promote the conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment in areas beyond national jurisdiction.Freedom for the Seas Diversity (CBD) also committed to the establishment of such a network within this timeframe.36 What is needed to ﬁll the present legal void in regulation is an integrated. have been lobbying the United Nations to impose a moratorium on this activity in the high seas.34 However. precautionary. Several countries.N. and • Encourage the sharing of knowledge on highseas biodiversity through the creation of a publicly available list of species. and surveillance mechanism for human activities on the high seas. “global ﬁsheries authorities agree to eliminate bottom trawling on the high seas by 2006 and eliminate bottom trawling globally by 2010.N. w w w. w o r l d w a t c h .40 Countries that ﬂag vessels that trawl in these areas. from overﬁshing and destructive ﬁshing practices to marine pollution and climate change. an advisory body to the U.37 Such an agreement would need to be supplemented by other efforts to address speciﬁc threats to the high seas. A legally binding international agreement would not only help protect vulnerable marine ecosystems. For instance. Fish Stocks Agreement. founded on ecosystem-based management and the precautionary principle. It could be modeled on the U. Among other things. but also requires them to take measures to protect and preserve the marine environment. There are advantages to developing such an implementing agreement under UNCLOS.N.35 UNCLOS not only offers countries the right to use the oceans. the agreement could: • Provide a clear mandate and legal duty to protect high-seas biodiversity. with enough legal ‘teeth’ to ensure that these activ32 O C E A N S I N P E R I L ities comply with international law. and management of high-seas marine reserves. resolution. the U. establishment.N. Since the adoption of the U. as well as regional ﬁsheries management organizations with the competence to manage deep-sea ﬁsheries. control. only a few ocean areas have been afforded protection from the highly damaging practice of bottom trawling. are tasked with regulating this activity to ensure the protection of vulnerable ecosystems.”39 In December 2006. • Establish an effective centralized monitoring.38 In 2005. since the treaty’s broad remit already covers most or all of the activities that affect marine biodiversity and also provides a binding dispute settlement mechanism. o r g . which was itself negotiated to implement some of the Articles of UNCLOS. selection. the leading international treaty that governs countries’ rights and duties in the high seas. but it would permit a ‘time out’ to make proper scientiﬁc assessments of these areas and to develop effective policy solutions. Secretary General recommended that. A new UNCLOS “high-seas agreement” would provide a formal mandate to protect high-seas areas for conservation purposes and could be used to address a variety of existing gaps in high-seas governance. along with marine scientists and environmental groups. no mechanism for implementing this exists under the current framework provided by either the CBD or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Equitable and Sustainable Management of the High Seas One way to provide the necessary mandate to implement a global marine reserve network— and to oversee a range of other currently unregulated activities on the high seas—is to create a new implementing agreement under UNCLOS. • Require that an environmental impact assessment be carried out before approval of any bioprospecting activities in the high seas.41 But action on these measures is still required to ensure adequate protection of deep-sea habitats. the regional Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has adopted what is essentially a bottom-trawling moratorium in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. • Provide a clear mandate for the identiﬁcation.
In a 2003 study.47 If successful. fuel. and other operational costs that enable ﬂeets to ﬁsh beyond their capacity. it would be irresponsible for WTO members to engage in greater liberalization of ﬁsh trade. the Paciﬁc.45 In July 2006. overﬁshing. and unsustainable ﬁshing practices. tariffs are often the last industrial policy instruments left to developing countries to protect domestic ﬁshing industries. Convention on Biological Diversity. and reduction of marine biodiversity. Such distant-water O C E A N S I N P E R I L Catch of the day in a fish market in Galle.43 However. and the World Summit on Sustainable Development’s Plan of Implementation. Overall. leading to increased competition with ﬁsheries for wild feed. Fish Stocks Agreement. such as Greenpeace. rather than the WTO.N. the U. $20 billion of which goes to boat construction.48 But some critics. ﬁsh-exporting countries and put increasing pressure on world ﬁsh stocks. stock declines. Sri Lanka. Until these international instruments are uniw w w.N. © Michael Renner 33 . several industrialized ﬁsh-exporting countries have proposed a “zero-for-zero” scenario whereby they would cut their tariffs to zero and expect developing countries to do the same. Governments must also agree to phase out harmful subsidies that contribute to excess ﬁshing capacity. These include processes under the U. Trade liberalization can also open developing-country waters to foreign export-oriented ﬂeets.Freedom for the Seas Fair and Sustainable Fisheries Another key to ensuring viable ﬁsh stocks and protection of marine biodiversity is addressing the movement toward liberalization in the international ﬁsh trade. and the Caribbean are concerned they will lose their current trade advantages if such liberalization goes ahead. is a more appropriate forum for such discussions because it focuses speciﬁcally on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity rather than on trade. the entire Doha Round of world trade talks was suspended. equipment. w o r l d w a t c h .N. This creates an opportunity to move discussions on fish and fish products out of the WTO and into other multilateral fora where commercial and trade interests do not dominate and where environmental concerns can be more closely addressed. and negotiations have resumed only on an informal basis. and many countries in Africa. o r g versally adhered to and enforced.46 Negotiations are currently under way at the WTO to reform international rules on ﬁsheries subsidies—marking the ﬁrst time that conservation concerns have led to the launch of a speciﬁc trade negotiation.49 A related measure is to bring an end to unfair and unsustainable ﬁsheries agreements that allow industrialized countries to ﬁsh in developing-country waters. the ﬁshing sector receives an estimated $30–34 billion in external support. they could lead to a broad prohibition of harmful subsidies in marine wild-capture ﬁsheries. say the U.42 As part of the recent “Doha Round” of trade talks in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Each year. causing problems of overﬁshing. ﬁsheries trade liberalization would likely beneﬁt only a handful of industrialized. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “Code of Conduct” for Responsible Fisheries. the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicted that widespread liberalization of the ﬁsheries trade could lead to overexploitation of ﬁsh stocks as well as catch declines for both exporting and importing countries.44 It also predicted that tariff reductions would stimulate aquaculture production.
deter. and unregulated (IUU) ﬁshing both in coastal waters and on the high seas. and the FAO international plan to prevent. w o r l d w a t c h . control. Stronger global effort is also needed to address illegal. © Greenpeace/Roger Grace right to ﬁsh in their waters (in access fees and licenses) is a mere 5 percent or less of the estimated $2 billion the ﬁsh is worth. ensure continued livelihoods and incomes. Greater use of mitigation efforts is also needed to deal with the incidental capture or entanglement of marine mammals.58 Within the treaty area. Other solutions include establishing a central monitoring.57 Regional ﬁsheries management organizations can also play a greater role in addressing bycatch. setting them deep underwater through tubes. including full traceability of seafood products. Governments need to close ports and markets to such ﬁshers and their ﬁsh.N. the U. o r g Unwanted bycatch. the amount that foreign ﬂeets pay countries for the them adopt sustainable seafood policies. adding weights to longlines to accelerate sink rates. prosecute companies that support IUU ﬁshing.56 A voluntary program. if properly implemented.50 In the case of tuna ﬁshing in the Paciﬁc. and dyeing baits blue. the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and BirdLife International created a joint “Albatross Task Force” to educate longline ﬁshers on the use of mitigation methods. seabird deaths from bycatch declined from 6.” known as IPOA-SEABIRDS. In addition. which alert animals to the presence of w w w. unreported. including the FAO Compliance Agreement. in 2006. the FAO set up an “International Plan of Action for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds in longline ﬁsheries.53 Other measures that have proven successful in mitigating seabird bycatch include trailing streamers behind vessels where the hooks enter the water to scare birds. Mexico.589 in 1997 to only 15 in 2003. Korea. far outweighs the target catch of orange roughy from a deep-sea trawl in international waters of the Tasman Sea. though so far only the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has taken comprehensive mitigation action.55 In 1998. China.Freedom for the Seas access agreements are often in the hands of private companies that negotiate ‘sweetheart’ deals with sometimes-corrupt governments. between Australia and New Zealand.54 Canada. however. and build the capacity to gain the full economic and social beneﬁts from their natural resources. it aims to encourage countries involved in longlining to identify where seabird bycatch is a problem. and Marine Mammals Tackling IUU ﬁshing could also help address the serious problem of marine bycatch by minimizing unregulated and unscrupulous ﬁshing activities.52 Mitigating Bycatch of Seabirds. and compliance authority for all vessels active on the high seas and working with seafood retailers to help O C E A N S I N P E R I L 34 . and to prescribe appropriate mitigation measures. including a starfish. would provide comprehensive and effective measures against IUU ﬁshing. Acoustic alarms. and working to make ﬁshing activities less visible. Russia. coastal states can manage their resources in a sustainable way. Fish Stocks Agreement. and use of mitigation methods is also inconsistent or non-existent in many Southern Ocean ﬂeets. Several international agreements already in place.51 By negotiating fairer deals. and the United States have all adopted mitigation methods to manage seabird mortality for some North Paciﬁc longline ﬁsheries. Japan. such as by setting baited lines at night. the FAO model scheme for port control. and Taiwan lack such regulations. and eliminate IUU ﬁshing. and outlaw ﬂags of convenience. to develop a national plan of action for how to reduce it. Turtles.
75 Even so. and modiﬁcation of ﬁshing gear or practices. and orange roughy due to concerns about ﬁshing methods or sustainability.74 The London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). established in 2002 with the support of WWF. Marine Mammal Protection Act has set a goal of reaching near-zero levels of incidental mortality of marine mammals. In the United Kingdom. a leading accreditor of sustainable ﬁsheries. under the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas. This work has been conducted by several U. bycatch of sea turtles has been addressed in part by mandating the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in the shrimp trawling industry. government w w w. shark.Freedom for the Seas ﬁshing gear or cause them to swim away.S.60 Marine mammal bycatch is also being addressed at the international level.70 Targeting Seafood Buyers and the Aquaculture Industry Because intergovernmental and even national policies can be difﬁcult to implement. tuna ﬁshery dropped from an estimated 133. noncompliance still occurs. only around 6 percent (by quantity) of the world’s wild capture ﬁsheries were engaged in the MSC program. for example. an intergovernmental treaty that provides the legal framework for countries in the Americas to take actions to beneﬁt sea turtles. Other mitigation measures include the use of weights on the tops of ﬁshing nets that allow small marine mammals to swim over. has pledged to sell only “MSC-certiﬁed” wild-caught fresh and frozen ﬁsh in North America within 3–5 years.S. dolphin populations have not yet recovered. o r g agencies and by the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles. the world’s largest food retailer. WWF worked with the Mexican government to eliminate the use of gillnets and shrimp trawls across the range of the endangered vaquita porpoise. recommends that countries adopt national action plans to reduce incidental mortality. has certiﬁed more than 20 ﬁsheries worldwide and grants its blue eco-label to more than 600 sustainably sourced seafood products. and has committed to removing all products caught using beam-trawls—a destructive type of bottom trawl used to target ﬂatﬁsh and shrimp—from its shelves by the end of 2007.67 TEDs have also been implemented in 15 other countries that export shrimp to the United States. as of April 2007. the U.61 The Cetacean Bycatch Resource Center. the supermarket chain Waitrose now provides information on the origins of all seafood sold at its fresh ﬁsh counters.66 The chronic effects of prolonged chase and frequent capture may be impairing breeding success. the Agreement for the International Dolphin Conservation Program for the Eastern Paciﬁc.62 In December 2005.68 While TED programs have been cited as a “success story” of bycatch mitigation.65 But although recent mortality should no longer be signiﬁcant from a population point of view.71 One way to do this is by mandating strict seafood labeling that requires producers to disclose where and how the ﬁsh was caught. U. releasing live animals from ﬁshing gear.64 As a result of innovative mitigation measures to guarantee “dolphinsafe” tuna—including changes in ﬁshing gear and net-setting.63 In the United States. and hand rescue by divers— dolphin mortality from the U. have been effective in the Gulf of Maine and the North Paciﬁc. Wal-Mart.000 in 1986 to less than 2.72 The company no longer sells marlin. a bottom-up approach—stimulating consumer market demand for “sustainable seafood”— can serve as a parallel means to encourage more responsible ﬁshing practices. sturgeon products. w o r l d w a t c h .76 Given that the global demand for seafood continues to rise.59 And time-area closures—the temporary closure of ﬁshing grounds during animal migrations—have been shown to reduce bycatch of endangered Hector’s dolphins in New Zealand.S.000 in 1998.S. much more can be done to encourage both producers and conO C E A N S I N P E R I L 35 .69 More research is also needed to develop effective turtle bycatch mitigation techniques for longline ﬁsheries.73 In a move that could have a signiﬁcant impact on the seafood market. and the International Whaling Commission.
OSPAR has also adopted a precautionary strategy to tackle radioactive pollution. and losses of radioactive substances to the marine environment by 2020. they will leave a legacy for years to come as they continue to leach out from materials and persist in the environment.83 Since then. Japan. agreed to in December 2006. Evaluation and Authorisation of CHemicals) legislation. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). governments and the industry could promote farmed ﬁsh that can be fed on herbivorous diets and encourage the replacement of ﬁshmeal and ﬁsh oil with vegetable-based feeds.80 But the treaty does not apply to any brominated ﬂame retardants. one form of the chemicals has been proposed for the list and another is under review for inclusion). But most aquaculture. including the most commonly used brominated ﬂame retardants.Freedom for the Seas sumers to support sustainable seafood.86 The agreement requires progressive and substantial reduction in discharges. For instance. with the ultimate target of near-background or near-zero levels. it represents a signiﬁcant step forward. despite their potential toxicity to marine life (so far. both the ﬁshing industry and governments have promoted farmed ﬁsh as a “sustainable” solution to ﬁshery depletions. implementation has been limited here too by the ongoing (and. and the United States. increasing) discharges from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants. governments can pass enforceable regulations on the positioning of aquaculture facilities.84 But implementation has been slow. and increase productivity. in 1995 the International Maritime Organization agreed to regulations for a global phase out of singlehulled oil tankers. However. members of the Commission for 36 O C E A N S I N P E R I L the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) took a notable precautionary approach to chemical pollution by agreeing to stop the discharge. and loss of all hazardous substances to the marine environment by 2020. such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).85 Although it remains uncertain how effective REACH will be in practice (and whether it provides sufﬁcient tools to meet OSPAR’s chemical pollution target).82 Unfortunately.79 Combating Marine Pollution Wide-ranging efforts are also needed to tackle the myriad sources of marine pollution.78 To protect coastal ecosystems such as wetlands and mangroves. In 1998.88 Environmental groups are now demanding that the industry pay for the damage caused by accidents through full and w w w. requires governments to take measures to eliminate or reduce releases of certain well-known persistent chemicals. Governments could also eliminate subsidies for ecologically unsound aquaculture and impose ﬁnes to help reduce escapes by farmed species into the wider environment. an issue of long-standing disagreement in northern Europe. rather than through any radical change in policy or practice. shifts the burden of proof from governments to industry and requires companies to substitute for many of the most hazardous chemicals when safer alternatives are available. even if many POPs are phased out globally. Efﬂuent wastes from aquaculture can be reduced by using integrated systems to efﬁciently utilize food and water resources.77 To address the negative effects of aquaculture. exacerbates the problems of overﬁshing due to the use of wild ﬁsh for feed. over some periods. The new REACH (Registration. with the exception of some herbivorous shellﬁsh farms and freshwater herbivorous ﬁsh farms. o r g . reduce costs. but global action will ultimately be needed. real progress may be achieved only as existing nuclear facilities reach the end of their working lives. With regard to oil pollution. In the meantime.81 Several of these substances are being regulated on a national or regional level in Europe. which entered into force in May 2004. China.87 In the end. emissions. the list of hazardous substances identiﬁed by OSPAR for priority action has grown from 12 to more than 40. in part because of parallel efforts to develop stricter chemicals regulations within Europe. emission. Alongside its chemicals target. the legacy of radioactive pollution of marine ecosystems in the northeast Atlantic will continue to grow. But seafood labeling can be tricky. w o r l d w a t c h .
and school and public education programs. has been ratiﬁed by 122 countries and includes language calling for a ban on the dumping of most garbage and all plastic materials from ships at sea.90 There is some evidence that the implementation of MARPOL has reduced the marine debris problem. The implemen- tation of the ecosystem approach. However. w o r l d w a t c h . and recycling as well as producer responsibility and eco-friendly design. Although the state of the Earth’s oceans has deteriorated rapidly in recent years. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 37 . renewable energy. this would also help lessen nutrient inputs to the coastal marine environment. reuse. however. there is also growing scientiﬁc evidence that these negative trends could be reversed. enough is known for the world’s governments and other stakeholders to take positive action to ensure that protection of the marine environment is at the core of their marine policies and activities. from the owners. A school of jacks in Apo Island Marine Reserve. but for ours too. reducing the problem of marine debris will require a “zerowaste” strategy that encompasses waste reduction. helping to slow the expansion of dead zones and ultimately reversing this trend. there is an urgent need to phase out the use of oil and to move toward clean. even with full global compliance with the treaty these sources would remain. future generations will be denied the chance to experience or enjoy the beneﬁts of the life that thrives within the international waters of Earth’s oceans. Together with more sustainable farming methods. however. and national initiatives aim to protect the oceans from marine debris. the Philippines. and operators of vessels to any charterers or owners of the cargo. © Greenpeace/Gavin Newman w w w. given that most of this debris originates on land. the greatest remaining global commons. Protecting the myriad of marine life—from the largest whales to the smallest planktonic creature—is necessary not only for its own sake. the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships (MARPOL).Freedom for the Seas unlimited liability along a chain of responsibilities. Ultimately. The Future There is still much to learn about the complex ecology of our oceans. In light of the toxicity of oil spills and the emerging threats of climate change. through the establishment of networks of large-scale. Unless urgent action is taken. campaigns to prevent losses due to poor industrial practice. fully protected marine reserves and the sustainable management of surrounding waters. international.91 Other measures to address marine debris include manual clean-up operations. is the key to restoring the health and vitality of our oceans and maintaining the livelihoods of the many coastal communities that depend on them. The most far reaching of these. however. managers.89 A variety of global.
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30 Adriatic Sea. 24. 26 deep sea biodiversity in. 19–23 ecological approach to. 11 Australia ﬁshery depletions. 36 pollution and. 35–36 feed considerations. 12 B Baltic Sea.. 10. 8. 10. 10 D dead zones. 18. 8. 15–16 mangrove forests and. 8 climate changes and. 5. 31–32 CCAMLR. 19–20 coral reefs biodiversity in. 22–23. 30 mangrove forests. 11 ocean acidiﬁcation and. 21–23. 33. 31 crustaceans in coral reefs. 35 chemical contamination. 18 mangrove forests. 16. 22 in open ocean.Index A acidiﬁcation of oceans. 36 Chile. 13. 10 C California. 11–12 bottom trawling and. 24–25 in seagrass beds. 30 coastal zone biodiversity of. 24 bioprospecting. 9–12 climate changes and. 16 spread of. 34 Antarctica. 17 Great Barrier Reef. 34 carbon dioxide emissions. see also seabirds climate changes and. 34 Black Sea. 14–15 ecological approach and. 13. 34. 28 Southeast Asia. 16 China ecological approach and. 7. 6. 9 coral bleaching. 27 CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity). 24–25 bioaccumulative pollutants. 15 disease seaweed and. George W. 36–37 52 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. 20–21 ecological approach in. 35 Bangladesh. 18 marine reserves and. 35–36 beneﬁts. 32. 11 pollution and. 15. 31 bycatch. 14–15 IUU ﬁshing. 24 ecosystem approach with aquaculture industry. 7 farming. 30 pollution from. 31 sustainable management of. 8. 9 bird species. see also aquaculture industry destructive methods. w o r l d w a t c h . 26 climate change changing seas and. 20. o r g . 11 pollution and. 33–34 for marine pollution. 6 for bycatch. 12 BirdLife International. 32 impact of. 16–18 distant-water access agreements. 9–10 marine reserves and. 9 in seagrass beds. 33 Albatross Task Force. 5. 15 in mangrove forests. 33 dolphins. 32. 22 Caribbean Sea biodiversity in. 36 ﬁshery depletion and. 19–21 level of protection. diversity of. 26 seamounts. 7–9 bottom trawling. 21 ecological approach and. 33 pollution in. 10. 9. 36 ﬁshery depletions. 11 threats to marine life. 33–36 in Indonesia. 34–35 for commercial ﬁshing. 26 bottom trawling destructive nature of. 19. 14–15 E East China Sea. 17–18. 10 in deep sea. 6 Arctic Ocean. 12. 32 aquaculture industry. 34 Cetacean Bycatch Resource Center. 11 pollution and. 14. 17–18. 30. 35 drift algae. 6 mangrove forests and. 18 Brazil. 35 IUU ﬁshing. 22. 20 Canada. 11 Barents Sea. 12. 11–12 Bush. 12 cyanide. 33–34 Doha Round (WTO). 36 ﬁshery depletions. 26. 9 dugong. 16–17 mangrove forests. 21 Atlantic Ocean climate changes and. 26 Africa. 25 commercial ﬁshing. 6 ecological approach. 12 marine reserves and. 18 BFRs (brominated ﬂame retardants). 9–10. 34–35 threat to drift algae. 9–12 ecological approach to. 22 in mangrove forests. see also commercial ﬁshing ecosystem approach. 5. 35–36 Denmark.
11. Food and Agriculture Organization) agreement. 11. 8. 27 North Sea climate changes and. 34 microbes in mangrove forests. 21 Greenpeace. 21 M mackerel. 36 ﬁshery depletions and. 25–26 Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. 15 K Korea. 27 Exxon Valdez tanker. 36 ﬁshery depletion and. 15–16 pollution and. 25 fungi in mangrove forests. 10–11 ecological approach to. 21 Greece. 30. 12 industrial ﬁshing. 6. 7–9 IUU ﬁshing. 15 OSPAR Commission. 31 Mexico. 19 hurricanes. 20 Indonesia. 34 G Galicia. 26 Gulf Stream. 33–34 ﬁsh farming. commercial harvesting for. 28 Great Barrier Reef (Australia). 9 N New Caledonia. 12 MPAs (marine protected areas). 25 IUCN (World Conservation Union). 15 India. 36 Egypt. 17–18. 5–6. 29–32. 7. 31 marine debris. 16. 21. 17. 36–37 open ocean biodiversity in. 8 mining. 34 F FAO (U. see aquaculture ﬁsh species. 35 invertebrates coral reefs and. 11 in open ocean. 33 Guam. 8–9. 9–11. 27 Honduras. 31. 34–35 erosion. 17 Indian Ocean. 31 pollution and. 14–16 Malaysia. 36 overﬁshing coral reefs and. 17 IUU ﬁshing. 9 industrial ﬁshing. 34–35 of sustainable management. 27–28 Lithuania. 17. 11 J Japan ecological approach and. 11. 35 ﬁshery depletions. 18. 37 medicine. 18 in open ocean. 10 Gulf of California. 9–10 ﬁshery depletions and. 10 in deep sea. 8 New Zealand biodiversity in. 24 Latvia. 14. 10 mollusks in coastal zone. 19. 22 rising sea temperatures. 10–11. 13–15 U. 33 oil spills. 9 IPOA-SEABIRDS. 9 in deep sea. 27 Indo-Paciﬁc Ocean. 35 Gulf of Mexico. 18 efﬂuent discharge. 22 in coral reefs. 9 pollution and. 9 along seamounts. 20. 35 International Maritime Organization. 7 ocean acidiﬁcation and. 20 in seagrass beds. 32–34 ﬁshery depletions. 27. 20. 9–10. 36 International Whaling Commission.N. 11 North Paciﬁc Gyre.N. 27 entanglement. 12 hydrothermal vents. 9–10. 12. 18. 15 longline ﬁshing. 11 endangered species. 37 Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). 26 ghost ﬁshing. 28 status. 27–28 marine ecosystems in coastal zone. 9–12 in deep sea. 20–21 ecological approach and. 31–34 IUU ﬁshing. 13–18 in mangrove forests. w o r l d w a t c h . 26 marine mammals along coral reefs. 14 Greenland Ice Sheet. 14 Nigeria. 19–20. 26 marine reserves. diversity of climate changes and. 14. 8 ecological approach in. 20–21 ecological approach. 18 pollution and. 13. 15. 8. 32 H Hawaii. 35 ﬁshery depletions. 16. 17. 24–28 O OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 15–16. 27. 6. 21 Estonia. 15 Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles. 35 MARPOL. 15 marine reserves and. 9–12. 10. 26 Norway. 13–18 Florida. 5. 15 Lebanon. 8 bycatch.Index for marine reserves. 32 EEZs (exclusive economic zones). 29–32 mitigating bycatch. 13. 18. 34 L lactational transfer. 11 manatees. 11–12 endemism. 34–35 industrially ﬁshed species. 15 France. 29. 15 Europe climate changes and. 24. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 53 . Fish Stocks Agreement. 7–8 in mangrove forests. 26–27. 14–15. 26 jellyﬁsh. seabed. 16 pollution and. 17 pollution and. 30 Great Ocean Conveyor Belt. 5–6. 9–10 Mediterranean Sea. 31 I Iceland. 31 hypothermia. 34. 11 pollution and. 11 in seagrass beds. 15–16 pollution and. 17 Gulf of Maine. 31 w w w. 12 ﬁsh stocks ecological approach. 8 English Channel. 34 Ireland. 26 Newfoundland (Canada). 11–12 mangrove forests.
36 sustainable management of high seas. 16 tourism. 8. 15–17 Singapore. 36 Peru. 21 as threat to marine life. 35 ﬁshery depletion and. 34 Tasmania. rising. Lucia. 27–28 seagrass beds and. 8. 11. 22 pollution coral reefs and. 32. 35 Wal-Mart. 15. 8 Turkey. 24 seamounts and. 14 turtles bycatch of. 20. 12 seals. 13.S. 10 Z zero-for-zero tariffs. 23 ecological approach. 9 depicted. 12 P Paciﬁc Ocean coral reefs. 6. 34–35 climate changes and. 24–25 World Conservation Union (IUCN). 35 temperatures. 33. 10. 17 World Parks Congress. see also speciﬁc states. see coral reefs rays. 11 W Waitrose supermarket chain. 10. 19. 11 wave action. 12 level of protection. 14–15 REACH legislation. 9 in deep sea. 13. 12 WTO (World Trade Organization). 16. 32–33 Fish Stocks Agreement. 31–33 worms. 24–25 PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). 34 Russia. 10. 10 ﬁshery depletion. 9. 31 seaweed. 10. 32–34 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 22 ecological approach in. 30 World Summit on Sustainable Development. 35 as EEZ. 26 South Orkney Islands. 31 pollution and. 10 tuna ecological approach. 10–12. 27. 11 skates. 33 St. 7 in seagrass beds. 9 pollution and. 36 Red Sea. 9. 15 sponges in coastal zone. 24–25 rainforests of the sea. 8 seagrass beds bottom trawling and. Marine Mammal Protection Act. 35–36 swordﬁsh. 17 open ocean species. o r g . 27 tsunamis. 36–37 efﬂuent discharge. 11. 14–15 South America. 24–25 seamounts. 36 porpoises. coral reefs. 12 Sri Lanka. 35–36 upwelling systems. 29. 24–26 on seamounts. 5 in coastal zone. 9 Papua New Guinea. 17 V Vietnam. 12. 21 whales climate changes and. 9 U. 13–16 pollution and. 14. 14–15. 19 deep-sea species. 34–35 drift algae. 10. National Marine Fisheries Service. 10. 30–31 Stockholm Convention. 24. 6 seabirds along coral reefs. 25. 21 Sea of Japan. 9. 9 pollution and. 10. 22 Southeast Asia. 30 Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 27 U United Kingdom. 34 overﬁshing of. 17–18. 7. 16–17. 19–21 seabed mining.Index ﬁshery depletions. 30 seagrass beds and. 16 marine reserves. 9 marine reserves and. 24. 12 sea temperatures. 34 T Taiwan. 12 POPs (persistent organic pollutants). 12 S salmon. 32. 8 TED (turtle excluder device). 26–27 polar bears. 35 U. 15. 15 shrimp farming. 27 photosynthesis. 24–28 marine reserves and. 21 plankton. 14–16 rising sea temperatures and. 9 ecosystem approach. 10–11 drift algae and. 36 marine life and. 15 pH values of oceans. 35 water quality. 11 threat to. 17–18 in open ocean. w o r l d w a t c h . 14 shellﬁsh. 11. 15 marine reserves and. 31 in Thailand. 33 54 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. 34 ﬁshery depletions and. 33–34 Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). rise in. 7–8. 15–16 sediments. 22 poisons. see sea temperatures Texas. 9 bycatch. 12 Thailand. 10 PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers). 21 coral reefs and. 15 Prestige tanker. 17. 9. 30–31 in open ocean. 7. 32 United States. 37 pollution and. 17 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). 16–17 scientiﬁc research. 10–11 Southern Ocean climate changes and. 17. 35 R radioactive substances. 18 Spain. 7–8 ecological approach in. 33 ecological approach of. 21. 34–35 United Nations on bycatch. 31. 35 Portugal. 9 industrially ﬁshed species.S. 22 Philippines biodiversity in. 15 sharks. 33 WWF. 16. 22. 25. 17. 12 West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 18 ﬁshery depletions. 8–9 sea levels. 10.
w o r l d w a t c h . They are used as concise and authoritative references by governments. 1999 145: Safeguarding the Health of Oceans. 2002 156: City Limits: Putting the Brakes on Sprawl. Population. 2001 151: Micropower: The Next Electrical Era. 2003 166: Purchasing Power: Harnessing Institutional Procurement for People and the Planet. and Materials 169: Mainstreaming Renewable Energy in the 21st Century. 2005 163: Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market. quantitative. and Security 173: Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace.org/taxonomy/term/40 w w w. visit www. 2002 159: Traveling Light: New Paths for International Tourism. 2003 153: Why Poison Ourselves: A Precautionary Approach to Synthetic Chemicals. 2001 On Food. Gathering Winds: Policies To Stabilize the Climate and Strengthen Economies. 2000 150: Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition. 2002 157: Hydrogen Futures: Toward a Sustainable Energy System. 1999 To order any of the above titles or to see a complete list of Reports. 2001 154: Deep Trouble: The Hidden Threat of Groundwater Pollution. and the Environment. and Urbanization 172: Catch of the Day: Choosing Seafood for Healthier Oceans. 2000 149: Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 55 . and qualitative analysis of the major issues affecting prospects for a sustainable society.Other Worldwatch Reports Worldwatch Reports provide in-depth. 2002 161: Correcting Gender Myopia: Gender Equity. 2005 170: Liquid Assets: The Critical Need to Safeguard Freshwater Ecosytems. The Reports are written by members of the Worldwatch Institute research staff or outside specialists and are reviewed by experts unafﬁliated with Worldwatch. 1999 142: Rocking the Boat: Conserving Fisheries and Protecting Jobs. 1997 On Ecological and Human Health 165: Winged Messengers: The Decline of Birds.worldwatch. nongovernmental organizations. Women’s Welfare. 1998 141: Losing Strands in the Web of Life: Vertebrate Declines and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. 2002 162: The Anatomy of Resource Wars. 2006 171: Happer Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry. 2004 160: Reading the Weathervane: Climate Policy From Rio to Johannesburg. 1999 144: Mind Over Matter: Recasting the Role of Materials in Our Lives. and educational institutions worldwide. On Climate Change. businesses. 2000 148: Nature’s Cornucopia: Our Stakes in Plant Diversity. 1998 138: Rising Sun. 2003 167: Sustainable Development for the Second World: Ukraine and the Nations in Transition. Institutions. 2001 158: Unnatural Disasters. 2007 168: Venture Capitalism for a Tropical Forest: Cocoa in the Mata Atlântica. 2000 147: Reinventing Cities for People and the Planet. 1998 On Economics. Energy. 2003 164: Invoking the Spirit: Religion and Spirituality in the Quest for a Sustainable World. 1998 140: Taking a Stand: Cultivating a New Relationship With the World’s Forests. Water.
56 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. Inc. Leuthold Family Foundation. K. the United Nations Environment Programme. accessible. the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. the V.About Worldwatch The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization that works for an environmentally sustainable and socially just society. the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. o r g . the German Government. and economies. the Sierra Club.. By providing compelling. the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. and lifestyle choices. and the Winslow Foundation. Support for the Institute is provided by the Blue Moon Fund. the Steven C. Kann Rasmussen Foundation. in order to inspire people to demand new policies. investment patterns. the Wallace Genetic Foundation. and fact-based analysis of critical global issues. the United Nations Population Fund. nature. w o r l d w a t c h . Worldwatch focuses on the underlying causes of and practical solutions to the world’s problems. the W. the Wallace Global Fund. The Shared Earth Foundation. the Marianists of the USA. Worldwatch informs people around the world about the complex interactions among people. The Institute also receives ﬁnancial support from many individual donors who share our commitment to a more sustainable society. Kellogg Foundation. The Shenandoah Foundation. The Goldman Environmental Prize. the Norwegian Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. in which the needs of all people are met without threatening the health of the natural environment or the well-being of future generations. the Johanette Wallerstein Institute.
Protecting the diversity of marine life—from the largest whales to the smallest planktonic creature—is necessary not only for its own sake. and commercial aquaculture. use of destructive ﬁshing methods. and many species have been severely depleted. Essential to solving these problems will be more equitable and sustainable management of the oceans as well as stronger protection of marine ecosystems through a well-enforced network of marine reserves. Yet the biological diversity of marine habitats is threatened by the activities of one largely land-based species: us. The activities through which humans threaten marine life include overﬁshing. WWW. Many policymakers and scientists now agree that we must adopt a radical new approach to managing the seas—one that is precautionary in nature and has the protection of the whole marine ecosystem as its primary objective. pollution. but for ours too. climate change and the related acidiﬁcation of the oceans is already having an impact on some marine ecosystems. 76 percent of the world’s ﬁsh stocks are fully exploited or overexploited.WO R L DWAT C H R E P O RT 174 Oceans in Peril Protecting Marine Biodiversity The oceans cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and are home to a myriad of amazing and beautiful creatures. Current ﬁsheries management regimes contribute to the widespread market-driven degradation of the oceans by failing to implement and enforce adequate protective measures. In addition.ORG . This “ecosystem approach” is vital if we are to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations.WORLDWATCH. Presently.
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