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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
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dredges. And as nearshore ﬁsh populations collapse. As this paper demonstrates. ﬂeets are forced to probe farther and deeper to ﬁnd their targets. raising ﬁsh that is low in the food chain. just one element of a new “ecosystem approach” to managing the seas that is critical to protecting the oceans for future generations. “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. only about 0. most recently in Catch of the Day (2006) and Happier Meals (2005). But currently. and knives—and the freedom to heal from past overuses. which make swaths of the oceans off-limits to damaging human activities. Just as nutritionists are discovering how healthy and beneﬁcial seafood really is. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 5 . we can obtain more from these life-supporting waters while also maintaining healthy and diverse marine ecosystems. activists. Destructive bottom trawling not only catches tons of unwanted species. The freedom they speak of is essentially freedom from human exploitation—from nets. This surprising conclusion. scallops. trawlers. By treating the oceans with more respect and by using them more wisely. This is a key message of this latest Worldwatch report. —Brian Halweil. scientists. Worldwatch Institute w w w. the diversity of sea life is fading. it also destroys deep-water coral reefs and other rich habitats that nurture the ﬁsh we do want to catch.” write the authors of Oceans in Peril. 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. Yet we continue to invest in wasteful and shortsighted ﬁshing techniques. It’s a simple change in perception. Consider marine reserves.1 percent of the oceans is fully protected. Just as meat that originates in a factory farm is different from meat that comes from animals raised on pasture. can provide healthy seafood without any feeds. such as clams. w o r l d w a t c h . we face a growing shortage of this once-bountiful food source.Preface nyone familiar with the state of the world’s oceans would have a hard time feeling optimistic. For example. can protect whole ecosystems and enable ﬁsh and other species to recover and ﬂourish. Oceans in Peril: Protecting Marine Biodiversity. The good news is that there is a way out of this predicament. carnivorous species like salmon and tuna consumes many times more ﬁsh in the form of feed than it yields for human consumption. and other mollusks. Alternatively. Through our research and analysis. ﬁsh farming that focuses on large. we have sought to illustrate that feed- A ing ourselves doesn’t have to come at the expense of a healthy environment. and the ﬁshing industry itself are already showing what a shift in perspective—and in governmental policies—can mean for the oceans. Fishing subsidies are so bloated that roughly a third of the global ﬂeet is considered unnecessary. These reserves. hooks. the differences between “good” and “bad” seafood are many. but the ramiﬁcations couldn’t be more important.
w o r l d w a t c h . and many species have been severely depleted. In other words. These provide protection of whole ecosystems and enable biodiversity to both recover and ﬂourish. such as ﬁshing or coastal development. The activities through which humans threaten marine life include overﬁshing. to show that these activities will not harm the marine environment. pollution. 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. Demands on marine resources must be managed within the limits of what the ecosystem can provide indefinitely. meaning that a lack of knowledge should not excuse decision-makers from taking action.Summary U niquely among the universe’s known planets. rather than being allowed to expand as demographic and market forces dictate. where most ﬁsheries management measures focus simply on single species and do not consider the role of these species in the wider ecosystem. The burden of proof must be placed on those who want to undertake activities. This “ecosystem approach” is vital if we are to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations. An ecosystem approach requires protection at the level of the whole ecosystem. Current ﬁsheries management regimes contribute to the widespread market-driven degradation of the oceans by failing to implement and enforce adequate protective measures. rather than as two separate and mutually exclusive goals. w w w. They also beneﬁt ﬁsheries by allowing for spillover of ﬁsh and larvae or eggs from the reserve into adjacent ﬁshing grounds. It is a holistic approach that considers environmental protection and marine management together. largely due to our growing appetite for seafood. 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. use of destructive ﬁshing methods. 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. an ecosystem approach requires the sustainable management of ﬁsheries and other resources. In addition. Outside of the reserves. “national parks” of the sea. but rather lead them to err on the side of caution. They cover 70 percent of its surface and are home to a myriad of amazing and beautiful creatures. 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. o r g 6 . and commercial aquaculture. climate change and the related acidiﬁcation of the oceans is already having an impact on some marine ecosystems. An ecosystem approach is also precautionary in nature. Paramount to the application of this approach is the establishment of networks of fully protected marine reserves—in essence. yet the biological diversity of marine habitats is threatened by the activities of one largely land-based species: us. 76 percent of the world’s ﬁsh stocks are fully exploited or overexploited. the Earth is a sphere dominated by watery oceans. Life almost certainly originated in the oceans. Presently. This is radically different from the current practice.
comprises nearly all of the oceans’ extent except for the shallow continental shelves next to the Earth’s landmasses. averaging 3. w o r l d w a t c h . and jellyﬁsh to some 2. 15 are exclusively marine.10 Other invertebrates present include crustaceans.7 Estimates of the total number of undescribed species in the deep sea range from 500. including visually striking corals. The most diverse marine ecosystems.650 known species of bottom-dwelling deep-sea ﬁsh. The Deep Sea The deep sea. such as coral reefs.11 Many ﬁsh species are also associated with seamounts.2 In contrast. and bristle worms. †Units of measure throughout this report are metric unless common usage dictates otherwise. may have levels of species diversity similar to the richest terrestrial ecosystems.8 Undersea mountains rising to 1. anemones. including worms. sea urchins. and specialized coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs.000 to as high as 10 million. and scarce energetic supplies. and tiny single-celled organisms known as Foraminifera. it supports a surprisingly high diversity of life.2 kilometers in depth. they tend to be dominated by ﬁlter or suspension feeders.9 Because enhanced currents carry a ﬂow of food particles to the mounts.The Diversity of the Oceans F ar from being watery voids. They cover 70 percent of the planet’s surface and provide shelter and food for some 210. on which are superimposed trenches and other features that provide habitat for creatures ranging from sea stars. However. *Endnotes are grouped by section and begin on page 38. sea stars. sponges. © NOAA and MBARI/Greenpeace w w w. brittle stars.000 meters or more above the sea ﬂoor appear to host a particularly wide diversity of deep-sea life.5 About 50 percent of the deep-sea ﬂoor is an abyssal plain. crustaceans. Pacific Ocean. the Earth’s oceans are home to a rich and colorful variety of life. Davidson Seamount.1 * Of the 33 animal phyla that exist worldwide. o r g 7 . and sponges. mollusks. mangroves. and seagrasses. animal life has only been studied on some 230 of the estimated 50.6 Deep-sea sediments are home to an even higher diversity of small animals. and 5 are nearly so. only one phylum occurs exclusively on land.000 known species. mainly of mud ﬂats. such as lowland tropical rain forests.4† Despite its darkness.000 seamounts worldwide. the open ocean.3 This diversity is distributed among differing habitats including the deep sea. near-freezing temperatures. mollusks. some of which form huge O C E A N S I N P E R I L Crab on sponge. 32 occur in the sea.
24 Yet more than 550 different species have been found at the 100-some vent sites studied so far.The Diversity of the Oceans aggregations. the sites tend to be dominated by a few large and visually striking species. but only an estimated 10 percent of the system has been explored for hydrothermal activity.13 In total. as were 31–36 percent of species in seamounts south of New Caledonia. slow growth. and seabirds frequently congregate over the features as well. Paciﬁc Ring of Fire 2004 Expedition. Chief Scientist occur in and around these “underwater oases. without oxygen. NOAA Ofﬁce of Ocean Exploration. vent clams. High biological diversity is also a feature of hydrothermal vents on the sea bottom. as well as several species of ﬁsh. of vent sites may exist along the ridges.16 Because of their endemism. despite their seemingly hostile environment. often very acidic. and enriched with hydrogen sulﬁde.12 Migratory tuna. are concentrated mainly along the Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. a 60.000kilometer seam of geological activity. scientiﬁc research. The ﬂuid from vents is hot (up to 407 degrees Celsius).17 Seamounts have faced intensive pressure from trawl ﬁsheries—which can scour the ocean ﬂoor with giant nets—since the 1960s. and stocks of orange O C E A N S I N P E R I L 8 . NOAA PMEL. While most vent diversity is attributed to small. with the coral substrate and associated community largely removed from the heavily ﬁshed areas. or species found nowhere else on Earth. between 24 and 43 percent of the invertebrate species collected were new to science. Bob Embley. deep ocean. one study described 263 different species on seamounts near New Caledonia. many seamount species are especially vulnerable to depletion. 2. and the blind vent shrimp.25 Vent animals are unique in that they do not rely ultimately on sunlight as an energy source. and various metals. In a study off southern Tasmania.20 Trawling impacts on local reefs were also dramatic. marine mammals. but rather on chemosynthetic bacteria that live off the hydrogen sulﬁde in the vent ﬂuids.700 species are known to roughy have been depleted on seamounts around Australia and New Zealand.19 A study off southern Tasmania found that heavily ﬁshed seamounts had 46 percent fewer species per sample than unﬁshed seamounts. and seabed mining. scientists discovered that the vents were populated with an extraordinary array of animal life. and long life (from about 70 to hundreds of years). if not thousands. Dr.29 The more-accessible hydrothermal vents are potentially threatened by human activities such as submarine-based tourism. w o r l d w a t c h . and considerably less total biomass. o r g A dense bed of hydrothermal mussels and shrimp clusters around an undersea volcano near Champagne vent in the western Pacific.26 At any given vent site. 44 percent of ﬁshes and 52 percent of bottom-dwelling invertebrates were endemic. which gush hot water into the cold.” 14 New species have been found on nearly every seamount studied.28 Vent environments also support among the highest levels of microbial diversity on the planet.27 Enormous densities of a giant clam-like organism and a giant mussel have been found near vents of the eastern Paciﬁc. methane. On two seamount chains in the Paciﬁc off Chile.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.15 Some seamount studies also report high rates of endemism. the diversity of species may be relatively low. but the abundance of animals is generally high.21 Such vents.30 One specialized w w w. inconspicuous animals.23 In 1977. such as tube worms.
and several seabirds. commercial ﬁshing.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. Other reef-dwelling species include sponges.700 meters and will dredge the seaﬂoor for copper.500 ﬁsh species inhabit the world’s coral reefs—more than a quarter of all marine ﬁsh species. They provide vital support for at least 280 species of ﬁsh.37 The Coastal Zone Shallow coastal waters. among them island atolls and the 2. though estimates range as high as 1 to 3 million. is capable of reaching depths of 1. and medicine. many invertebrates. and vessel trafﬁc. In this zone.31 However. sea cucumbers. animals.000 to 4.” 41 As many as 100. o r g fertilizer.38 They can form very thick limestone structures. and comprise roughly a third of tropical coastlines. and sea squirts. including 24 ﬁsh and 20 corals. form another important open-ocean habitat. the abundance and diversity of biological communities in the open ocean— away from the coast or seaﬂoor—is only beginning to be understood. jellyﬁsh. scientiﬁc research may pose a greater threat to some of the most-visited vent sites due to concentrated sampling and other practices. biodiversity is highest at the intermediate latitudes. nurtured by plentiful sunlight and warm temperatures.42 Centers of particularly high diversity are the southern Caribbean Sea and the tropical Indo-West Paciﬁc Ocean. 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 . scheduled for use in 2009. crustaceans.44 An estimated 4. sustain a large proportion of the world’s ﬁsheries. One 125. While most marine bioprospecting has taken place in shallower waters.39 The ability of corals to construct these massive frameworks sets them apart from all other marine ecosystems. and seagrass beds. as well as from pollution.48 And new reef species are still being discovered. oxygen-rich waters. cooler. gold. and zinc. or as expansive mats spanning several kilometers. and chemicals sectors.40 Because coral reefs are the most biologically diverse oceanic ecosystems.000 reef species have been named and described. pharmacology. with optimal habitats characterized by warm.47 Among the ﬁsh discovered were two species of bottom-dwelling sharks that use their pectoral ﬁns to “walk” across the seaﬂoor. four turtle species. mollusks.32 This and other “bioprospecting”—the exploration of biodiversity for scientiﬁc and commercial purposes—poses a growing threat to the marine environment. as elongated lines. and microorganisms contain unique biochemicals that could be useful in the health.34 Upwelling systems.43 Most corals derive at least some of their nutrition from photosynthesis by algae that live within them. Open-ocean features that favor high biodiversity include oceanic “fronts” where cold and warm water collide and “upwellings” where deep. they have been called “rainforests of the sea.36 But in some areas. which ﬂoat on the sea surface in occasional clumps. where the most biologically rich reefs house as many as 600 coral species alone. worm-like animals. and is also frequented by blue whales. and usually nutrient-rich water moves toward the ocean surface. occur in more than 100 countries. scientists are beginning to appreciate the valuable resources of the deep ocean. Recent research off the coast of Indonesia’s Papua Province found more than 50 species that are likely new to science.35 Drift algae. including coral reefs.The Diversity of the Oceans deep-sea submersible. drift algae are under threat from commercial harvesting for food.000-kilometer-long Great Barrier Reef off Australia. w o r l d w a t c h . w w w. supporting phytoplankton growth. dense. mangrove forests. The Open Ocean As in the deep sea. and there is currently no legal regime to regulate such activities. are home to some of the richest marine ecosystems. livestock fodder.45 Sea turtles and certain seabirds and marine mammals are also associated with reef environments.33 Many plants.300 square kilometers of oceans. Coral reefs cover an estimated 284. meanwhile.
And reef organisms themselves have proven useful in pharmaceutical development— providing an HIV treatment. such as the Caribbean and southern Florida. and other products. 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. and ﬁsh. which supplies export markets. with a shift toward ﬂeshy seaweed-dominated ecosystems. two of the most dominant reef-building corals have largely disappeared as a result of outbreaks of white band and white pox diseases. 250 in the Tigak Islands of Papua New Guinea.51 In total. 10 O C E A N S I N P E R I L reducing key ﬁsh and invertebrate species to low levels.61 Other threats to reefs include coral mining and removal. Mangroves grow in the intertidal zone between land and sea and support numerous species as well as w w w.55 Problems include a decline in coral cover and biodiversity. people harvest a large diversity of reef species: for example.66 In the Caribbean. a global survey of over 300 coral reefs in 31 countries reported that overﬁshing had occurred on most reefs. some 209 species are taken at Bolinao in the Philippines. Globally. reducing light penetration and/or oxygen levels and smothering corals. reefs mined before the mid-1970s have shown little recovery. 24 percent were under imminent risk of collapse through human pressures. most depend to some extent on coral reefs for harvesting ﬁsh. as species that prey upon the starﬁsh were depleted.62 Coral mining for building materials has caused extensive reef degradation in parts of the Paciﬁc. may be due to greater seaweed growth. coral disease. and. sea cucumbers. coral “bleaching” as sea temperatures rise. ﬁsh.63 Many live corals. w o r l d w a t c h . As of 2004. leading to declines in coral cover.58 Overﬁshing can remove species that perform critical functions for reef maintenance.The Diversity of the Oceans ing practices.54 Yet coral reefs are in serious decline globally.) Other rich coastal ecosystems under threat are the world’s mangrove forests.56 The greatest immediate threats to reefs are overﬁshing and pollution from poor landmanagement practices.57 Some 50 reef ﬁsh species are now listed as “threatened. meanwhile. located just north and south of the Equator.65 Meanwhile. reefassociated ﬁsheries account for at least 10 percent of world marine ﬁshery landings. a painkiller.” most due to exploitation. the number of new coral diseases and disease outbreaks has increased dramatically since the 1990s. elevated nutrient concentrations on reefs.53 Reefs also support extensive recreational and tourist activities. an estimated 20 percent of the world’s reefs had been destroyed. leading to serial depletion of large reef ﬁshes and the death of other species.67 (See pp. and Japan. crustaceans.64 Fishers often use cyanide to stun and collect the creatures. the restaurant and hotel industries. seaweeds.60 In a study in Indonesia.48 Of the estimated 30 million small-scale ﬁshers in the developing world. 19–20 for a discussion of coral bleaching. and in many areas it is now rare to see a ﬁsh over 10 centimeters long. diversity. Europe.59 Intensiﬁed urbanization and agriculture. can increase the run-off of sediments and nutrients to reefs. and inputs to cancer drug research. some of the most severe damage occurred along coastlines that had suffered heavy reef mining and damage. reef ﬁsheries provide food and livelihood for tens of millions of people in the tropics and subtropics. o r g . or physical debilitation of corals following repeated bleaching events.52 Coral reefs also help to shelter beaches and coastlines from storm surges and wave action. and 300 around Guam. showing no immediate signs of recovery.50 A growing threat to reefs is the booming commercial ﬁsheries trade. increasingly. and invertebrates are also collected for sale to aquarium lovers in the United States. and the liveﬁsh trade of Southeast Asia. affecting more than 150 species in the Caribbean and Indo-Paciﬁc alone. in turn. and 26 percent were under longer-term threat of collapse. Increased disease. reefs subject to such pollution stresses showed a 30 to 60 percent reduction in species diversity. In 1999.49 In some regions. and may explain the massive outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starﬁsh on the Great Barrier Reef since the 1960s. coupled in some areas. mussels.
70 A total of 69 mangrove species has been documented worldwide. the rainbow parrotﬁsh. mangroves help stabilize coastlines and reduce erosion.74 In addition to being important habitats. mangroves have been considered wastelands by governments and planners whose approach has been to drain them and ﬁll them in. many marine species use mangroves as nursery areas or predation refuges for larvae and juveniles. Bengal tigers in India and Bangladesh. and leaf monkey in Southeast Asia. and Vietnam. and 400 in the Sundarban mangrove forest of Bangladesh. an estimated 35 percent of the original area of mangrove forests has been lost in the last two decades alone.The Diversity of the Oceans protecting coastlines from storms.80 Although few ﬁsh are permanent residents.86 In many cases. above.77 Loss of mangroves can cause inland saltwater intrusion and deterioration of groundwater quality. Coastal communities in many developing countries are very dependent upon mangrove ecosystems for sustainable harvests of ﬁsh. the presence of mangrove forests signiﬁcantly mitigated the impact of the 2004 tsunami. down from 75 percent historically. roughly 60 percent of commercially important coastal ﬁsh are directly associated with mangrove habitats.79 They also export food that supports near-shore species such as shrimps and prawns. Nigeria. the abundance of several commercially important species more than doubled compared to reefs that were not near mangroves.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. crab-eating frog. manatees in Florida.87 In addition. industrial.85 Large-scale mangrove destruction is a relatively recent phenomenon. and uncontrolled coastal development.69 Of the approximately 175.76 Mangroves also maintain water quality in coastal zones by trapping sediments. microbes. pollution. large areas of forests have been destroyed to make room for shallow. industrial forestry. ﬁsh. Yet reefs like Samadai in Egypt’s Tondoba Bay. as well as reptiles and mammals. and nutrients—an activity that can help the functioning of nearby coral reefs. o r g groves in the Caribbean showed that where coral reefs were connected with mangrove habitat. In Phang Nga province in Thailand. 260 in Vietnamese mangroves. are threatened by overfishing.73 Mangroves also support several endangered species. crustaceans. as forests are converted for aquaculture. shellﬁsh.78 Mangroves provide a rich source of nutrients for the many invertebrates and ﬁsh that inhabit them. with the highest diversity occurring in Southeast Asia. may have suffered local extinction due to loss of mangrove habitat. including an estimated 80 percent of all marine species of commercial or recreational value in Florida. and rare orchids in Singapore. and fungi. about a quarter are in Indonesia and another 20 percent are in Brazil. and medicinal plants. 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. and non-seafood products such as wood. such as the milky stork. organic material. and Australia. and agricultural. w o r l d w a t c h . In Fiji and India. China. mangroves have been planted to prevent storm damage. mangroves support many valuable ﬁsheries species.75 In Bangladesh.72 As many as 117 ﬁsh species were recorded in the Matang mangrove waters of Malaysia.68 Total loss is estimated at more than 50 percent.81 A recent study of manw w w. livestock fodder. © Greenpeace/Marco Care 11 . Yet despite their importance.000 square kilometers of mangrove forests that remain.71 Mangrove forests support extensive populations of birds. crabs.83 At a commercial level. and tourist facilities. with mangroves now occupying only 25 percent of tropical coastlines.82 The study also suggested that the largest herbivorous ﬁsh in the Atlantic.
increased turbidity from continuous maintenance dredging caused the loss of 14.2 million hectares. w o r l d w a t c h . four-meter-long blades of eelgrass in the Sea of Japan.94 Like coral reefs and mangroves.90 They vary in structure from the tiny 2–3 centimeter rounded leaves of sea vine in Brazil’s tropical waters to the straplike. worm-like animals. © Greenpeace/Roger Grace A ﬁnal key area of marine biodiversity under threat is seagrass beds. For example. seagrass declines have been linked to multiple stresses.97 Seagrass beds also provide food.88 The recent massive losses of mangrove forests have resulted in the release of large quantities of stored carbon. contributing to human-induced climate change. they support a large variety of species.100 Several reports have associated the loss of seagrass habitat with declining ﬁsh catches. Rising sea temperatures could also alter seagrass growth rates and other physiological functions. turtles. ﬁshes.101 Threats include dredging operations.99 Increasing coastal development over the past several decades has led to seagrass losses throughout the world. Seagrasses grow submerged in shallow marine and estuarine environments along most continental coastlines and represent some 60 species of underwater ﬂowering plants. sea anemones.104 A Mediterranean rainbow wrasse swimming over a seagrass bed in the Mediterranean Sea off Turkey.89 threatened marine mammals. sea squirts. most commercially valuable species appear to be seasonal or temporary seagrass residents. but only in a few places are measures being implemented to address these threats. corals. a recent study showed that seagrass beds in some areas of the Caribbean provided key nursery habitat for the threatened Indo-Paciﬁc humphead wrasse.96 In Phang Nga province in Thailand.98 (In fact.The Diversity of the Oceans dyked ponds for shrimp farming.102 Other dangers include boat propellers and the dragging of ﬁshing nets and dredges across beds to collect shellﬁsh. though the true ﬁgure may be above 1. a total loss of 290. Over the last decade. mollusks. shelter.000 hectares of seagrasses by hindering plant growth.) Seagrasses are also thought to function as important nurseries for many coral reef ﬁshes.91 Because seagrasses are highly productive and provide physically complex environments.95 Because of their interlacing rhizome/root mat. o r g .103 In many cases.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.93 In addition. seagrass detritus may represent an important food input to coastal ﬁsheries. including sponges. and nursery habitat for many marine species. the presence of seagrass beds was reported to have signiﬁcantly mitigated the impact of the 2004 tsunami.000 hectares has been documented. reduced water clarity from nutrient and sediment inputs. crustaceans. they have been reported to remain intact even through high wind and wave action during hurricanes in the Caribbean. Texas. seagrass beds serve to stabilize shorelines and reduce wave impacts. the manatee and dugong. and pollution. including juveniles of exploited ﬁsh and shellﬁsh. At Laguna Madre. and certain waterfowl and wading birds.
freezer trawlers. or depleted. and other products. The adoption of more powerful boats. or aquaculture.3 (See Figure 1. acoustic ﬁsh ﬁnders.) Areas with the highest shares of overexploited or depleted stocks include the southeast and northeast Atlantic. areas of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Marine Capture and Aquaculture. and ﬁsh farming. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 13 .519 ﬁsheries. overexploited. and.5 (See Figure 2. Status of World Fish Stocks. Figure 1. for tuna and tuna-like species.7 Catch records reveal that between 1950 and 2000. w o r l d w a t c h . though in some cases environmental conditions have also contributed. and other advanced technologies has led to a massive increase in global ﬁshing effort.2 According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In 2005.6 In most cases. accounted for the remainder. 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. ﬁshers have extended their range from the continental shelves to more distant. southeast Paciﬁc. Global Fish Harvest. overﬁshing has been the primary cause for the declines. a sevenfold increase over 1950. ﬁshers worldwide harvested nearly 158 million tons of ﬁsh in 2005. 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. ﬁshery “collapse”—a sustained period of very low catches following a period of high catches—occurred in 366 out of 1. ﬁsh oil.) About three quarters of ﬁsh production is for direct human consumption. with the rest going to ﬁshmeal.Dangers of Fishery Depletions O ver the past century.4 The growth in the global ﬁsh catch has led to declines in the status of many marine ﬁsh stocks. Marine capture accounted for about 60 percent of the total.1 As near-shore ﬁsh stocks have declined. at least 76 percent of stocks were considered either fully exploited. deepwater habitats. the everincreasing demand for seafood has had powerful implications for marine species and ocean ecosystems.
and stocks ﬁnally collapsed in 1991. as well as bottom-dwelling species. sea cucumbers. there has been a measurable decline in the mean “trophic level” of ﬁsheries catches—the position a species holds within the food web. herring.20 The direct impact is a loss in abundance of the target species. had declined by an estimated 90 percent since 1952.9 The decline began in the 1960s. which tend to mature early in life and are caught using more selective ﬁshing techniques. this causes massive collateral damage to corals and other features that offer protection and habitat for many creatures.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. the time to recovery may be considerably longer than was previously thought. mackerel. were the most vulnerable. predatory. swordﬁsh. as occurred with Atlantic cod. dogﬁsh. rays. © Greenpeace/Jeremy SuttonHibbert removing the larger.23 As ﬁshers drag heavy nets and other gear across the sea ﬂoor. An assessment of 90 ﬁsh stocks that had suffered prolonged declines showed that even 15 years after the reductions.18 Near Newfoundland.000 jobs and severely damaging Newfoundland’s economy. o r g 14 . open-ocean ﬁsh. and deep-sea ﬁsh such as the roundnose grenadier and spiny eel. the amount of predatory ﬁsh—including cod. and marlin.8 Smaller ﬁsheries and stocks.13 Another study from 2005 found that the abundance of large.14 (Tuna and billﬁsh showed a loss in species diversity of 10 to 50 percent in all oceans. causing a loss of at least 20. on the Greek island of Kefalonia in the Mediterranean Sea. such as tuna. by switching prey if their main food source declines in abundance due to climatic and other changes. the practice of ﬁshing down the food web will reduce the number and length of pathways that link ﬁshes with other organisms. faster-growing ﬁsh could alter the genetic diversity of a population and hence its survival capabilities.22 Greater recovery was only evident in species like herring and sprat. Although ﬁshery collapses may be reversible.16 Aggregated globally. many bottom-dwelling ﬁsh showed little if any recovery—particularly those species typically caught using highly destructive trawling methods. longer-lived predatory ﬁsh and are subsequently targeting smaller.21 From a marine diversity perspective. the average size of ﬁsh caught also declined by a meter. The practice of bottom trawling has been likened to forest clearcutting. white abalone.Dangers of Fishery Depletions or nearly one in four. selectively removing the larger.19 The ecological impacts of overﬁshing predatory ﬁsh are bound to be widespread and possibly difﬁcult to reverse.11 The ﬁshery remains closed and there is little sign of recovery of offshore cod in the area. and salmon— had declined by approximately two thirds. Perhaps the best-known collapse involved the Atlantic cod ﬁshery off Newfoundland. as the average trophic level dropped sharply between 1957 and 2000. resulting in a simpliﬁed web. an analysis of 31 species in the north Atlantic revealed that over the past 50 years.15) Other marine species that have undergone large-scale declines due to ﬁshing pressure include many sharks. A less-diverse food web may make it harder for predators to compensate for environmental ﬂuctuations—for instance. Research indicates that “ﬁshing down the marine food web” is happening on a global scale. shorter-lived ﬁsh that are lower down the web.10 A moratorium imposed in 1992 closed the ﬁshery to commercial ﬂeets.12 Losses of predatory ﬁsh may be a good indicator of changes in the oceans overall. and skates.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. In addition. In 2003. w o r l d w a t c h .
33 Currently. Iceland. Japan. decoration. crustaceans. In 2001. Estonia. Portugal.36 It is now the fastest-growing animal-food production sector in the world. skates and rays. and capelin w w w. Hawaii. bottom-trawling catches comprised 115 species that were kept for the market and 309 that were discarded. and Spain. loss of these stocks may have adverse impacts on these predators. with little attention to the impacts of heavy trawling gear on habitat. including mackerel and herring stocks in the North Sea and anchovy off the coast of Peru in the 1970s. overﬁshing induced the collapse of the Norwegian springspawning herring stock in the late 1960s.27 Bycatch— the incidental catch of non-target species— from bottom-trawling ﬁsheries is also high. © Greenpeace/Alex Hofford 15 .Dangers of Fishery Depletions New Zealand. just 11 countries were responsible for 95 percent of the reported highseas bottom-trawl catch: Denmark/Faroe Islands. Since its beginnings in the 1950s. Lithuania. is another growing activity that is likely unsustainable. Consequently.500-year-old reefs exist. it has undergone a rapid expansion. seabirds. including some in areas where 4. But over the past three decades.31 Industrial ﬁshing. an estimated 90–99 percent of Oculina reef habitat has been reduced to rubble.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. management of these stocks has been particularly poor. o r g stocks in the Barents Sea in the 1980s.32 Industrially ﬁshed species are low in marine food webs and are therefore important food resources for many predatory ﬁsh. Stocks of the tuna are destined to be critically low within three years if fishing of the species continues unabated. Russia. more than a third of the ﬁsh used to make ﬁshmeal worldwide goes into producing feeds for aquaculture. and in most years completely failed. and marine mammals.25 In regions off Norway and the United Kingdom.29 On average.34 Aquaculture—the farming of seaweed. Latvia. For example. 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. and by exposing them to predators. providing over 40 percent of all ﬁsh consumed. w o r l d w a t c h . have disappeared from large areas due to intensive bottom-trawl ﬁsheries. shellﬁsh. 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. or recreation has developed into an intensive. particularly as ocean ﬁsh stocks have declined. Off Atlantic Florida. When stocks were at their lowest between 1969 and 1987.35 What was once a lowinput method of maintaining animals for food. discards accounted for one third of the catch by weight. Fledgling success of chicks was less than 50 percent in all but three seasons. or the targeting of wild ﬁsh for conversion into ﬁshmeal or ﬁsh oil. which have a high age at maturity and are slow to reproduce. industrial ﬁshing has been linked to the decline and collapse of several populations of small open-ocean ﬁsh. high-input industry. In the North Sea. this severely affected the breeding success of Atlantic pufﬁns in the Norwegian Sea due to a reduction in food supply. New Zealand.26 Bottom trawling kills seabed lifeforms by crushing them. or ﬁsh in freshwater or marine environments— has been practiced for up to 4. photographs show giant trawl scars up to four kilometers long.28 In another study in the Mediterranean. and the population has struggled to recover. Although many deep-sea ﬁsheries lie within the control of coastal nations.000 years.30 Meanwhile. by burying them under sediment. Norway.
the weight of wild ﬁsh used in production is about 20 times the weight of tuna produced. mainly for shrimp and milkﬁsh. 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.46 • Habitat Loss.57 In southern Chile. seaweed species being farmed in Hawaii escaped and spread across coral reefs. Despite occasional beneﬁts to the diversity of bottom-dwelling species from modest nutrient efﬂuent ﬂows. at higher levels the added nutrients from aquaculture are more likely to reduce species numbers. that the Chilean jack mackerel was overﬁshed. marine shrimp.. the aquaculture industry cannot rely indeﬁnitely on ﬁnite stocks of wildcaught ﬁsh. Other threats that aquaculture poses to wild ﬁsh populations and marine ecosystems include: • Depletion of Wild Stocks for Seed. In some cases—as with natural shrimp stocks—this has led to overexploitation.52 • Chemical Contamination. 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. up to 160 other shrimp and fish fry are discarded for every tiger shrimp collected. and capelin and sandeel needed to be managed using a precautionary approach. salmon. the weight of ﬁshmeal inputs (i.51 In China. which led to the development of resistant bacteria strains that caused disease in the shrimp. 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. when wastewaters are released. and trout requires between 2.50 Efﬂuent discharges from shrimp ponds into estuaries can threaten ﬁsh communities and cause changes in plankton community structure.Dangers of Fishery Depletions While aquaculture as a whole adds to the world’s ﬁsh supply. Non-native aquaculture species can spread disease to.45 The practice also results in the capture of juveniles of other species that are discarded and die. eel. has now become established on almost all northern hemisphere coasts. Marine aquaculture often relies on the capture of wild juvenile ﬁsh or shellﬁsh to supply stock.41 And to meet its feed demands. Chemicals and drugs are often added to aquaculture cages and ponds to control pathogens. as a result. salmon and trout escapees may be competing with native southern hake and mackerel. the catch limit on horse mackerel was too high to sustain stocks.53 One of the factors that led to the collapse of the Thai shrimp farming industry in 1988 was the indiscriminate use of antibiotics. rather than using hatcheries to rear them. leading to excessive plant growth and oxygen depletion.5 to 5 times as much ﬁshmeal (by weight) as output of ﬁsh. the farming of certain types of marine ﬁsh and shrimp results in a net loss.43 A study of six industrially ﬁshed species used for aquaculture feed found that most of these ﬁsheries did not meet requirements of sustainability.59 • Introduction of Diseases. o r g .54 • Escape of Non-Native Species. widely used in aquaculture. signiﬁcant pollution has been reported in coastal creeks adjacent to intensive shrimp ponds.44 It concluded.60 Infectious salmon anemia and sea lice are both widespread problems in European salmon farming w w w. the harvest of blue whiting was unsustainable.e.56 In 1973.58 And the Japanese Paciﬁc oyster. w o r l d w a t c h . these inputs can contaminate the nearby environment. ground-up wild ﬁsh) is greater than the weight of farmed ﬁsh produced. In India and Bangladesh.55 Interbreeding may alter the genetic make-up of a wild population and compromise its resilience to natural environmental change. Serious epidemics of two diseases in Atlantic salmon have been linked to movements of ﬁsh for aquaculture and re-stocking. compete with.38 This is because in some intensive aquaculture systems.48 In Thailand.47 In 1991. the industry relies heavily on ﬁshmeal imports from South America.40 For tuna caught and fattened in ranches.42 As it expands. Aquaculture for tropical shrimp and ﬁsh has led to the destruction of thousands of hectares of mangroves and coastal wetlands.49 • Efﬂuent Discharge. for example. or predate on native populations.39 Producing carnivorous ﬁsh such as marine ﬁnﬁsh.
and then discarded. and fulmars.71 In the 1980s. the U. Longline ﬁshing. vessels by 1991.64 Yet the problems continue today with illegally placed driftnets and the use of a variety of other net types. NASA-Johnson Space Center (http://eol. an estimated 50. and porpoises at over 300. and sea turtles as well as sharks continue to drown in shrimp nets. marine mammals.74 Moreover. not all ﬁshers comply with the law in the Gulf of Mexico.S. substantial numbers of seabirds. non-target species. northern Australia. including an estimated 200.62 Many ﬁshing practices can have serious effects not just on ﬁsh. placed a global moratorium on the use of driftnets longer than 2. o r g Large numbers of sea turtles are also killed in shrimp trawl ﬁsheries.5 kilometers—a type of gear that had been killing large numbers of marine creatures— on the high seas. but on other. shearwaters.76 For several populations. and Orissa on the east coast of India.” drowned. most longline ﬂeets still do not employ effective mitigation methods. where it has caused losses in Texas shrimp farms and may also be killing wild crustaceans.000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles drowned each year in the southeastern United States and Gulf of Mexico ﬁsheries alone.” the United Nations.000 leatherbacks in 2000 alone.nasa.70 Populations of these two species in the Paciﬁc have declined by 80 to 95 percent in the past 20 years. it may take decades to see the long-term effects of implementation. farms. a metal grid ﬁtted at the top or bottom of a trawl net from which large animals like turtles and sharks can escape. 25 of which are listed as critically endangered. but because sea turtles mature slowly. dolphins. w w w. 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.72 As a consequence. Each year.Dangers of Fishery Depletions and have also affected U. and are pulled underwater by the weight of the line and drown.66 Longline ﬁshing ﬂeets kill an estimated 300.S. particularly in the Gulf of Mexico. endangered. 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. illustrating the high risk of unmitigated longlining to species survival.jsc.gov/) 17 . or vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). including the highly endangered vaquita porpoise in the Gulf of California and Hector’s dolphin off New Zealand. Image Science and Analysis Laboratory.75 Fishery operations can also kill or seriously injure marine mammals that are “captured.69 Longlining has also resulted in the incidental take of sea turtles.73 TEDS were required to be ﬁtted into shrimp trawl nets on U.000 and put seals and sea lions in a similar range. including some 100. northeast China.000 seabirds a year. National Marine Fisheries Service worked with the industry to develop the turtle excluder device (TED).000 loggerheads and 5.000 albatrosses as well as petrels.68 While some nations have introduced measures to reduce the number of birds caught.65 Animals are attracted to the ﬁshers’ discards and baits. w o r l d w a t c h . ingest the hooks. in December 1992.000 loggerheads and 50.67 In total.63 To prevent some of this “bycatch.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. in 2002. and sea turtles become entangled or hooked accidentally by ﬁshing gear. and many die as a result. there is a danger they could spread to wild salmon. Researchers estimate the annual bycatch of whales.S. longlining is responsible for the deaths of at least 61 different species of seabirds.
ﬁshers ﬁnd ways to evade the constraints. and porpoises are likely to be severely reduced or lost in the next few decades if nothing is done to address incidental capture. Greenpeace activists board the factory trawler Murtosa in the Barents Sea off Norway in 2005. 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. unregulated. and surveillance.89 IUU ﬁshing jeopardizes the livelihoods of local ﬁshing communities. bearing a banner that reads “Stop Fish Piracy.” © Greenpeace/Dick Gillberg pose the single greatest threat to their continued survival. 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.80 A signiﬁcant—and growing—contributor to both marine bycatch and ﬁsheries depletions is large-scale “illegal. Affected regions include the Southern Ocean as well as coastal areas of West Africa.90 *All dollar amounts are expressed in U. dollars unless indicated otherwise.Dangers of Fishery Depletions unreported” (IUU) ﬁshing. which has led to increased competition. at least six due to entanglement.81 Operating outside of ﬁsheries management and conservation rules. illegal longline ﬁshing for the Patagonian toothﬁsh is estimated to kill up to 145. and results in signiﬁcant economic losses.79 Several populations of whales.88 In the case of bycatch.86 Fishers also launder stolen ﬁsh by “transhipping” their catch to reefers at sea rather than ofﬂoading them directly in ports.83 * Of this. some $1. there have been 50 reported deaths of the whales. as well as 61 conﬁrmed cases of entanglement. and the Mediterranean. including moving their activities to areas (often in developing countries) where effective control is absent.S. control.25 billion originates from exploitation of the high seas and the rest from the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of coastal states.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 . o r g . As industrialized countries see their own ﬁsh stocks decrease and impose stricter controls in their waters.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.77 Bycatch also contributes to the poor conservation status of the North Atlantic right whale.000 seabirds annually.87 As in the legal ﬁshing realm.” The Togo-flagged vessel is fishing for cod without a quota in the international section of the Barents known as the “loophole. and 18 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. IUU ﬁshing is a growing threat to marine diversity and a serious obstacle to achieving sustainable ﬁsheries. of which only some 350 animals remain. IUU ﬁshers “steal” ﬁsh from the largely unregulated high seas as well as from regulated areas that have little capacity for monitoring. threatens the food security of coastal countries. the Paciﬁc.84 IUU ﬁshing results in large part from overcapacity in the world’s ﬁshing ﬂeets.
affecting hundreds or thousands of kilometers of reefs. by comparison. Sven Zea. 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. increase their susceptibility to disease. The incidence and prevalence of the disease can increase when corals are stressed by above-normal temperatures. and the remaining one-third is from deforestation and other land-use changes.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. The result has been an increase in atmospheric temperatures. Small increases of even 1 °C above the summer mean maximum can cause the partial or total loss of these algae and their pigments. extinction.7 Reef-building corals have a symbiotic relationship with algae that live within them and supply energy from photosynthesis. 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. Islas del Rosario. but it can reduce the reproductive capacity and growth of corals.4 Modeling data for sockeye salmon suggest that elevated water temperature could impair ﬁsh growth and increase mortality. o r g 19 . Changing Seas H uman-induced climate change is predicted to have profound impacts on the world’s oceans and on marine life.6 Rising sea temperature is thought to be the primary cause of the many and widespread episodes of coral “bleaching” worldwide since 1979.1 About two-thirds of human-caused CO2 emissions is related to the burning of fossil fuels. have occurred over the past 20 years. and even result in death. with a pattern of increasing frequency and intensity. with wide-ranging effects on the Earth’s climate systems.9 Six major cycles of mass coral bleaching.5 Climate change could reduce the abundance of many marine species and increase the likelihood of local. The impacts on corals range from relatively mild (in the case of seasonal bleaching) to largescale mortality.11 Mortality near 100 percent was observed in Indonesian and eastern Paciﬁc reefs following a bleaching event in 1982–83. Honduras. Universidad Nacional de Colombia/Marine Photobank w w w.Changing Climate. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. causing the coral to turn a brilliant white. in the 8.8 The bleaching is often temporary. so even a small degree of warming could have a negative impact on their physiological functioning and survival. levels rose by only 20 ppm.10 Since 1995. w o r l d w a t c h .3 Many marine organisms already live at temperatures close to their thermal tolerances. and in some cases global.000 years preceding industrialization. Diploria strigosa. most reefs worldwide have been affected by mass bleaching.
© Greenpeace/Roger Grace bleaching. Australia. echinoderms. w o r l d w a t c h .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. but no damage in cooler areas. 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. there have been increases in the abundance of certain algae. and ﬁsh that thrive at high temperatures. 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.16 Unless there is a change in these thermal tolerances. As the western Mediterranean Sea has warmed over the last 20 to 30 years.13 In 2001–02. wherein more-resilient individuals within a population survive and increase in numbers.15 As sea temperatures continue to rise. Changing Seas western Indian Ocean after a 1997–98 event. reef bleaching on a worldwide scale could become an annual or biannual event by this period. the larvae are now suffering from increased predation by shrimp whose peak abundance time has also shifted. recent warming trends in northwestern Europe have led to earlier spawning of the mollusk Macoma balthica. other reefdwelling species that depend on coral for shelter and sustenance have shown little recovery from severe bleaching events.23 Many marine ﬁsh seek preferred temperatures.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.21 The loss of reefs would also affect the estimated tens of millions of people who rely on reefs for daily sustenance. extensive bleaching on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef caused signiﬁcant coral mortality in the hottest patches. which in turn is determined by the size and duration of the sea-temperature increase. and adaptation. they may fail to reproduce. even slight changes could shift their geographical distribution and affect their physiological performance. the thermal thresholds of corals in most areas of the tropics and subtropics could be exceeded by 2030 to 2050.19 It is possible that more thermally tolerant species will become more dominant.27 This has caused a temporal mismatch between the mollusk larvae and their food supply. providing food for ﬁsh in their larval and adult stages. but not to earlier spring phytoplankton blooms. whereby their physiology changes so they are more tolerant of higher temperatures.24 Research on a Californian gastropod and a Caribbean coral has shown that both have shifted poleward due to warming.14 In some cases. the global prognosis for reefs is unlikely to change unless there is an accelerated effort to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Furthermore. Changes have also been observed in marine plankton abundance and community structure in recent decades. where ﬁsh have narrow limits of temperature tolerance.12 The extent of coral mortality appears to increase with the intensity of the bleaching event. o r g .22 Unfortunately. and increasing sea temperature is likely to affect their distribution as well as their abundance.25 A northward shift in the distribution of some North Sea ﬁsh also occurred in response to rising sea temperatures between 1977 and 2001.28 Phytoplankton (small plants) and zooplankton (small animals) lie at the base of the marine food web. leading to a decrease in reef diversity.17 Corals could cope with the rising temperatures in at least two possible ways: acclimatization. For example.26 The impacts of sea temperature rise will likely be complex and unpredictable.Changing Climate. In the polar regions.
Between 1961 and 2003. and polar bears. affecting the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. w o r l d w a t c h . with resulting impacts on marine habitats and biodiversity. is responsible for transporting a huge amount of tropical heat to the north Atlantic via the Gulf Stream. it is possible that climate change could affect the global circulation of ocean water. thinning of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be nearly balanced by thickening of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. and ecosystem function.30 On the other hand.48 By this time. p. this could result in the loss of as much as 22 percent of the world’s coastal wetlands.5 millimeters per year. and the endangered Laysan ﬁnch.44 While the likelihood of this is unknown. the threatened Hawaiian green sea turtle. driven primarily by temperature and salinity differences. Climate variability is known to affect the replenishment of stocks with juvenile ﬁsh. the global sea level has risen by about 1.Changing Climate.49 This degree of melting will likely have negative consequences within the next few decades for Arctic animals that depend on the ice. are now more than double previous estimates.36 Sea-level rise could lead to increased erosion and ﬂooding of coastal areas. 22.34 Presently. indigenous hunting. whales. that worldwide stock declines are linked in any major way to climate change. it has been suggested that heavily overﬁshed stocks may be more sensitive to climate variability due to a loss in biological diversity.35 Even if greenhouse gas concentrations were stabilized immediately. birds. the Arctic Ocean is expected to be predominantly ice-free in summer. o r g sites for four marine turtle species. some species that are presently abundant will be restricted in their range. which could have severe impacts on commercial ﬁsheries.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. however. reducing this warming effect. exacerbating existing declines caused by overﬁshing. Changing Seas young cod. and ice sheets would continue to react to climate change.39 Another study predicted signiﬁcant loss of terrestrial habitat on two low-lying Hawaiian islands. particularly toward the edge of a species’ range.29 The warmer environment may also hamper the reproductive success of cod.46 In the Arctic. there is abundant evidence that overﬁshing has resulted in signiﬁcant declines in many ﬁsh species. sea level would continue to rise from thermal expansion.37 By the 2080s. or more than 0. Importantly.42 The so-called Great Ocean Conveyor Belt.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. including ﬁsh.40 Rapid sea-level rise could also effectively “drown “ coral reefs by reducing penetration of the light required for coral-dwelling algae to photosynthesize.33 It is projected to keep rising over the next several decades. seals. During the wintertime. caused by the expansion of sea water as it warms and by the melting of landbased ice. losses from the Greenland Ice Sheet. 45 Of all the Earth’s regions. the poles have seen particularly rapid warming. warming the climate of northern Europe. affecting wildlife that depends on these habitats.47 The mean annual surface temperature in the region is predicted to increase another 4–7 °C by the end of the century. and a 10–15 percent decrease in the extent of sea-ice coverage in the spring and summer since the 1950s. and to intrusion of seawater into estuaries and freshwater aquifers.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. however.41 In addition to raising sea levels.) As the warming moves northward. the possibility of an abrupt change in ocean circulation and impact on climate is very real. resulting in impaired resilience. researchers have reported a 40percent reduction in the thickness of sea ice between 1958 and the 1990s. though the amount will depend largely on the degree of melting at the polar ice caps.50 (See Sidebar 1.8 millimeters a year on average. The loss in Arctic biodiO C E A N S I N P E R I L 21 .32 Also of concern to marine biodiversity is sea-level rise. There is little evidence. this heat is released to eastward-moving air masses.
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. Most female polar bears build their dens on land. with cod. These structures will become more difﬁcult to produce and maintain and may ultimately start to w w w. The most sensitive species to climate change are potentially those with narrow food or habitat requirements. Effects of Climate Change on Arctic Marine Wildlife Fish. In the Canadian Arctic. and some species subsist on ice-associated prey. The study concluded that some populations of Antarctica’s 4.57 One scallop species. Rising sea temperatures may cause changes in metabolic. In a 2004 study. the oceans have absorbed about half of the human-caused CO2 emissions. Continuance of current and projected trends will have dire consequences for the harp and hooded seals in the region. Canada.5— a reduction well outside the range of natural variation and one that has probably not been experienced for hundreds of thousands of years. Source: See Endnote 50 for this section. Seals. and average retreat rates are accelerating. The distribution of Arctic fish will most likely change. Ice-living seals depend on sea ice as a birthing. including the ivory gull. 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. 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.Changing Climate. possibly due to an altered wintering habitat. and Greenland halibut are likely to have a restricted range and decline in abundance.59 Ocean acidiﬁcation could have a major impact on many marine organisms that build shells and skeletal structures out of calcium carbonate. Climate change and sea-ice retreat will likely bring declines in polar bear numbers. growth. break-up is now occurring about 2.52 Warmer temperatures appear to have led to retreats of ﬁve Peninsular ice shelves over the last century. leading to possible extinction.1 unit. and polar bears have been coming ashore in poorer condition and birth rates have declined.) Many bottom-dwelling Antarctic species are particularly sensitive to temperature variation. but the bears depend heavily on sea ice as their habitat and feeding ground. reduction of sea ice. Other species including capelin. molting. Earlier break-up of the ice in spring and later freeze-up in autumn would mean a shorter feeding period. and spotted seals. together with certain crustaceans.54 The warming ocean waters. polar cod. Changing Seas Sidebar 1. and resting platform. Females with lower fat stores are likely to produce fewer cubs and have smaller cubs with lower survival rates. pollock. a key species in the Southern Ocean food web and an important food source for the penguins. and reproductive processes and affect the growth and survival of smaller organisms on which fish prey. 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. The rising carbon content of the atmosphere is not just contributing to the warming of the oceans.51 In the southern polar region. walleye. These include corals and echinoderms.5 weeks earlier than it did 30 years ago. In Hudson Bay. versity will likely also result in increased susceptibility to disease. Polar Bears.56 (See Sidebar 2. 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. and parasites.55 These changes also appear to be having a negative impact on numbers of Antarctic krill. Sea ice must be sufficiently stable to rear pups. records for the western Antarctic Peninsula indicate a rapid rise in atmospheric temperature of nearly 3 °C since 1951. bearded. Birds. and increased glacial melting (with its subsequent effects on ocean salinity) could all signiﬁcantly affect life in the Antarctic.58 By 2100. resulting in reduced fat stores. including ringed. researchers found that a mere 1 °C rise in summer sea temperatures impaired the biological functioning of three species of mollusk. and in the Gulf of St. pests. which is closely associated with sea ice. mollusks. but is also making them more acidic. ringed seals. Ice loss could also reduce the availability of the bear’s main prey. and a concurrent 1 °C rise in summer sea-surface temperatures. herring.000plus known bottom-dwelling species would be at risk of decline from a 1–2 °C increase in summer sea temperatures. Other Arctic seals that depend on sea ice are at similar risk. and planktonic organisms. Arctic seabirds are likely to be affected mostly by changes in their prey. including the collapse of the Prince Gustav and parts of the Larsen ice shelves in 1995. Over the past 200 years. o r g . lowering the pH of the ocean by about 0. for example lost the ability to swim. Research suggests there has been an 80 percent decline in the gull’s nesting numbers. w o r l d w a t c h . Lawrence. as their habitat too disappears.
significantly smaller populations of Antarctic krill have been observed in the Antarctic Peninsula region. The respiratory processes of ﬁsh and invertebrates could be impaired and body tissues could become acidiﬁed.Changing Climate. Without signiﬁcant action to do this. since the ice provides winter food from ice algae and is needed for survival and growth of krill larvae. and rising sea temperatures in one of their key spawning and nursery areas could affect populations as well. slower growth. Lower krill numbers in the early 1990s may have contributed to decreasing populations of Adélie and chinstrap penguins observed since 1990. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 23 . there could be no place in the future oceans for many of the species and ecosystems we know today. and fur seals would also likely be affected by reduced krill abundance.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 are also believed to favor cold water. Source: See Endnote 56 for this section. Impact of Climate Change on Antarctic Krill Since the mid-1980s. The decline was found to correlate with the extent and duration of sea ice the previous winter. which reduced the surface water salinity. seals.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. In addition. The change was linked to increased glacial meltwater run-off. leading to decreased reproductive potential. In the productive southwest Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. revealed a shift in the organisms comprising the plankton to communities less-effectively grazed by the krill. Antarctic krill also depend on summer phytoplankton blooms as a food source. Antarctica. w w w. Changing Seas disintegrate. decreasing trends in birth weight of Antarctic fur seals and macaroni penguins in the early 1990s were reported. Courtesy Australian Antarctic Division grasses and mangroves. a study of plankton community structure between 1990 and 1996 at Palmer Station. Changes in Antarctic krill could have profound implications for the Southern Ocean food web. since calcium carbonate tends to dissolve under acidic conditions. and increased susceptibility to disease. including seaSidebar 2. Catch of Antarctic krill from an Australian research expedition in 2003. However. crabeater. and the contribution (by weight) of krill in the diets of macaroni penguins began to decline significantly. Penguins. w o r l d w a t c h . krill densities decreased by an estimated 80 percent between 1976 and 2003. and whales are especially susceptible to krill shortages.60 Acidiﬁcation is likely to have major ramiﬁcations for the biodiversity and functioning of coral reefs and associated ecosystems. albatross. Baleen whales. It could also affect non-calcifying marine organisms.
One example is the brominated ﬂame retardants (BFRs).9 There is also evidence that some of these substances increase in concentration through marine food chains.1 In recent years. They can also travel long distances from their point of origin. in their blubber were statistically linked to levels of thyroid hormones in their blood.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 0.000 tons. resins. polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). indicating very pervasive contamination of the marine environment.Polluting the Marine Environment A n ongoing threat to marine life is the release of polluting substances into the oceans.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. possibly reﬂecting greater usage of the compounds in that region. meaning that they build up in the tissues of ﬁsh and other animals. textiles. several of the most worrisome effects may be on the thyroid and estrogen hormone systems.6 BFRs have been shown to contaminate marine wildlife all over the world.4 Between 1990 and 2000.8 Research from seals and pilot whales indicates that once absorbed. including chemicals. They have been found in coastal areas. in the deep oceans. in accordance with the hypothesis that PBDEs are endocrine disruptors. Some studies have indicated a signiﬁcant presence of BFRs in seabirds. compounds added to plastics. followed by the Americas and Europe. and the subw w w. paints. nutrients. long-lived. w o r l d w a t c h .5 Asia accounts for more than half of the market demand for the substances. electronics. and even in remote Arctic regions. global usage of the chemicals more than doubled from 145. oil.12 Other studies have demonstrated that some BFRs are toxic to nervous and immune systems and can alter liver function.1 nanograms per gram (ng/g) lipid to 53 ng/g lipid. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). and undermine ecosystem integrity. o r g 24 . and other chemicals on marine species. and other products to increase their ﬁre resistance.2 Synthetic chemicals known collectively as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are toxic.10 While relatively little is known about the toxic effects of BFRs in wildlife and humans.000 tons to 310.3 But others have received relatively little attention despite their known and potential effects on marine organisms. directly kill organisms.14 Higher levels were apparent in the northern hemisphere. 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.11 A study on wild grey seal pups reported that levels of one category of BFRs. and marine debris. and bioaccumulative. radioactive substances. These substances can contaminate the marine environment. there has been rising concern about the effects of mercury. the chemicals may be passed from mother to young across the placenta as well as through lactational transfer. Various POPs have become subject to international control under the provisions of the Stockholm Convention agreed to in 2001.
© Greenpeace/Nick Cobbing 25 . while others indicate that levels have stabilized or even decreased in recent years. are also important marine pollutants. have extremely long half-lives. Other sources include operational discharges from nuclear power facilities. Sellafield. As these organisms die and sink. the remobilization of contaminated sediments from the seabed acts as a continued source of the radionuclides to waters above. the dumping of radioactive waste at sea. this implies that the compounds have even contaminated deep-water oceanic food webs. For plutonium. United Kingdom.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. substances that have no natural counterparts. w o r l d w a t c h .16 One study showed a possible PDBE breakdown product. The increase in microbe numbers may cause oxygen to be used up in these areas. They reach coastal waters from a variety of sources. and. predominantly between 1954 and 1962. though perhaps more localized. 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. including agricultural fertilizer run-off. Another signiﬁcant.25 Plutonium was found in seaweed collected from the Irish coastline between 1986 and 1996.27 Excess nutrient pollution in coastal waters can cause increased numbers of phytoplankton and zooplankton. the presence of the radionuclide in sediment continues to act as a source to overlying waters.17 Some studies show an increasing trend of PBDE levels in marine wildlife over time. indicating that the bears may metabolize the compound and that the levels typically measured may in fact underestimate their total exposure. resulting in marked changes in species composition.15 Because the whales feed in deep offshore waters. they are consumed by microbes either deeper in the water or at the seabed. nuclear reprocessing plants.24 The levels of contamination in the mammals decreased with increasing distance from Sellaﬁeld.Polluting the Marine Environment stances were also present in three sperm whales found stranded on the coast of the Netherlands.20 In 1998. indicating that the plant was the major source of this contamination. 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. o r g tions in tissue samples of seals and porpoises along the UK coast at levels 300 times greater than in seawater.19 Nuclear weapons testing. sewage discharges. and via atmospheric pollution from the burning of fossil fuels. although discharges from Sellaﬁeld peaked in the early 1980s. mainly in the form of nitrogen or phosphorous.21 The “footprint” of contamination stretches from the Irish Sea to Arctic waters. as well as in mussels and oysters on the northeast coast of Ireland between 1988 and 1997.23 One study detected radiocesium concentraw w w. 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. due to the longdistance transport of radionuclides on ocean currents. and can act as potent carcinogens and mutagens. Presently. PBDEs were also detectable in polar bears from different regions of the Arctic. possibly as a result of new controls on the substances in some countries. threat is that posed by artiﬁcial radionuclides.26 Plant nutrients.
29 The process of nutrient overload and subsequent oxygen loss has led to the formation of vast. there were 513 spills from tankers and tank barges in U. smaller spills occur every day from ships. leading to death from hypothermia. Oil-coated shorelines result in dead or moribund animals. China. and in many U.”30 The number of dead zones has risen every decade since the 1970s.41 While the size of a spill is important.39 For example. the southern bight 26 O C E A N S I N P E R I L . the amount of damage also depends on other factors including the type of oil spilled.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. but lessmobile sediment-dwelling animals that cannot escape may begin to die. in the Baltic and Black Seas. coastal waters of at least 100 gallons (379 liters) in size. Spain.31 The largest such zones (40. Japan.000 square kilometers) are found in coastal areas of the Baltic Sea. © Greenpeace/Pedro Armestre ﬁsh and other marine animals.S. and. Australia. from 1990 to 1999.38 Municipal and industrial wastewater and atmospheric deposition may also be responsible for nutrient pollution in some places. the northwestern shelf of the Black Sea.42 Oil spills can have devastating impacts on the environment. often in large numbers. offshore drilling operations. the location of the spill.S.32 Some of these zones are ﬂeeting whereas others persist for a large proportion of the year. the northern Gulf of Mexico.000–84. as well as off South America. Animals may also be poisoned by oil ingestion as they try to clean themselves or if their prey is contaminated.) Seabirds and marine mammals are particularly badly affected: coating of feathers or fur can destroy their waterprooﬁng and insulating characteristics. o r g Crude oil spilled from the sunken tanker Prestige coats the beach of Barranin.36 In the Baltic.Polluting the Marine Environment of the North Sea. and routine vessel and vehicle maintenance. w o r l d w a t c h . have led to the demise of some bottom ﬁsheries. and weather conditions.28 Fish tend to vacate these areas as oxygen levels fall. and New Zealand. there is clear evidence that excess use of fertilizers is associated with oxygen-depleted bottom water.33 The increasing numbers of dead zones in coastal regions are associated with declines in biodiversity and. lawful discharges of oil from offshore oil and gas installations accounted for the overwhelming bulk of oil inputs from this sector. Smaller and less-frequently occurring dead zones occur in the northern Adriatic Sea. Galicia. In the long term.40 In the North Sea. oxygen-depleted areas known as “dead zones.43 (See Sidebar 3. coastal and estuarine areas. until recently. continual exposure to w w w.37 Oil spills in the marine environment can be catastrophic for wildlife and have long-lasting impacts on ecosystem health as well. While large spills typically make the headlines because of their dramatic effects. with a recent estimate of up to 200.
and environmentalists have called on the Philippine government to hold Petron and its partners accountable for damages to the environment and people’s livelihoods. w o r l d w a t c h .000 and 230.46 Studies have shown that marine debris is ubiquitous in the world’s oceans and on its shorelines.000 items per square kilometer. during which time the spill spread over some 150 kilometers of Lebanon’s coastline. and in Indonesia roughly 690. sea lions. Far from being just a few pieces of rubbish scattered along beaches.45 It is the cause of injury and death to numerous marine animals. though the nearby seabed was also smothered. northern gannet. and to date Petron has not offered financial assistance in mitigation. A tanker chartered by Petron Corporation sank in rough seas off the Philippines on August 11. and locations in Indonesia. Philippines.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. clinging to sand.50 The sources fall into w w w. and in oceanic convergence zones.000. The spill killed an estimated 250. August 2006. though higher amounts were reported in the English Channel (10 to more than 100 items per square kilometer) and Ambon Bay. destroyed coral reefs. As late as 2000.000 to 13.000 oiled birds were collected after the spill. An impact assessment is being undertaken to assess damage to marine sanctuaries and coastal ecosystems. rock. Of marine mammals. Large amounts are also found in shipping lanes. Lebanon. some populations of sea otters had not recovered from the spill. whales.800 sea otters and at least 302 harbor seals were killed directly. the oil tanker Prestige sank 210 kilometers off the coast of Spain.000 tons of heavy fuel oil into the Mediterranean Sea. When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in March 1989. 2002. On the seaﬂoor. O C E A N S I N P E R I L 27 . around ﬁshing areas. Alaska. with the rest coming from marine activities. Initial impacts on marine wildlife included reports of thousands of fish and other species being found dead on shores daily. in the North Paciﬁc Gyre. In Europe. it spilled an estimated 42. Source: See Endnote 43 for this section. razorbills. Because Lebanese marine ecosystems have high biodiversity. The spill also threatened spawning fish and sea turtles that nest on the coast. seals. More than 23. Prestige. Spain 2002. and European shags—was estimated at between 115.000 items per square kilometer. and badly damaged 1. contaminating at least 1.000 hectares of marine reserve. marine debris has become a pervasive problem affecting all of the world’s oceans. the most affected beaches lost up to two thirds of their total species richness. o r g Sidebar 3. turtles.44 A highly visible form of marine pollution is that caused by marine debris. and both species showed several years of delayed recovery in the spill area. The spill covered some 320 kilometers of coastline in thick sludge. On November 13.48 In surveys of world shorelines.000 birds almost immediately and had longer-term effects on abundance and distribution. In Galicia. Oil contamination was still evident on Alaskan coastlines 10 to 12 years after the spill. Atlantic puffins.990 kilometers of pristine shoreline. and the total number of affected birds—including common guillemots. Cleanup operations were delayed for five weeks due to the war. and stone. four major groups: tourism-related litter at the coast (including food and beverage packaging. debris has been studied in several locations in European waters as well as in the United States. an estimated 2. Studies report quantities of larger ﬂoating debris generally in the range of 0 to 10 items per square kilometer. Cleanup has been hampered by slow decisions on the release of funds by the government. 2006. a debris convergence zone. Much of the spilled oil emulsified and solidified along the shore. spilling some 200 tons of oil initially but leaving an additional 1. 1989. the highest quantity recorded was 101. with higher quantities found in the tropics and mid-latitudes than toward the poles.800 tons on board. A study of mussels from the Bay of Biscay in 2003 indicated that exposure to toxic chemicals was still causing metabolic disturbances. resulting in the release of an estimated 10. July 2006.49 An estimated 80 percent of marine debris is from land-based sources. 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). Indonesia (more than 4 items per square meter). the Caribbean. extrapolation of the data suggests that maximum levels could reach nearly 1 million items per square kilometer. On July 14 and 15. Israeli military strikes hit oil storage tanks at Jiyeh power station on the Lebanese coast. and ﬁsh. At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris. and as recently as 2003 in some lower intertidal zones. Recent Major Oil Spills and Their Effects Exxon Valdez. releasing an estimated 63.47 Floating “micro” debris of a much smaller size occurs at high levels even well offshore.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. 2006. including many seabirds.000 tons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. either because they become entangled in it or because they mistake it for prey and eat it.
especially near the coast. they are broken up either mechanically or by sunlight into smaller and smaller fragments. possibly carrying marine animals and plants long distances to areas where they are non-native. Plastics and synthetic materials are the most common materials found.51 Even such tiny particles can cause harm to the marine environment. starvation (through reduced feeding efﬁciency). These particles have been found in seabed sediments and suspended in seawater. sewagerelated debris (including street litter. surrounded by garbage and other debris that has been washed up by the tide. and plastic beach toys). suffocation.53 Derelict ﬁshing gear also damages coral reefs when nets or lines get snagged by the reef and break it off. This phenomenon. and these cause the 28 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. and bait box bands kill marine mammals. A young boy plays with syringes on a beach in Lebanon. © Greenpeace/Serji cigarettes. o r g .Polluting the Marine Environment most problems for marine animals and birds. and seabirds by drowning. condoms.52 Derelict ﬁshing gear. Plastic bags are the major debris item found on the seabed.” can result in the capture of large quantities of marine organisms. ﬁshing-related debris (including lines. sea turtles. and eventually into pieces the size of grains of sand. as small sea creatures ingest them and potentially concentrate any toxic chemicals present. and injuries. six-pack rings. and strapping bands from bait boxes). w o r l d w a t c h . nets. And discarded or lost ﬁshing nets and pots can continue to trap and catch ﬁsh even when they are no longer in use. pots. known as “ghost ﬁshing. strangulation. and wastes from ships and boats (including garbage that is accidentally or deliberately dumped overboard).54 Marine debris can also act as rafts. affecting conservation of ﬁsh stocks. and syringes washed from storm drains or sewer overﬂows). As plastics weather in the ocean.
3 A Global Network of Marine Reserves From a conservation perspective. This can be done most effectively by establishing fully protected marine reserves—effectively. almost all of which are small-scale and coastal. w o r l d w a t c h . as well as to disposal activities. temporary area closures. such as recreational boating. But ﬁsheries management has generally fallen far short of adequate protection for wider marine ecosystems. non-destructive ﬁshing. o r g 29 . precautionary. for a global network of fully protected reserves that also includes protection of the high seas. small-scale. may be permitted up to certain levels. and limits on ﬁshing effort. more than 4. Marine reserves offer the highest level of environmental protection of all marine pro- tected areas (MPAs). “national parks” of the sea. however. as well as the complex interactions between species that make up an ecosystem. most ﬁsheries management has been based on consideration of single species rather that the whole ecosystem of which they are part. in speciﬁc cases.000 MPAs exist worldwide. safeguarding ocean life means protecting not just a single species. or areas beyond national jurisdiction.1 Moreover. © Greenpeace/Gavin Newman w w w. but the full variety of species and their habitats. marine reserves promote the sustainable use of living resources in an equitable way that is underpinned by the precautionary principle. fundamental changes need to be made in the way our oceans are managed. 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.7 This is necessary to safeguard against overﬁshing. these have tended to be in the form of catch quotas.5 Currently. many of these have been ineffective because they are either too weak or poorly enforced. (Less-harmful uses. though many reserves contain core zones where no human activity is allowed at all.Freedom for the Seas G iven the many threats to the world’s marine environments.6 There is an urgent need. 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.2 What is needed to ﬁll the present void in regulation is an integrated.4 They are areas of the sea that are closed to all extractive uses. While governments have adopted a wide range of well-meaning oceans and ﬁsheries regulations. passage of shipping. and ecosystem approach to promote both the conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment. illegal ﬁshing. When limits are imposed. and.) As such. In other words. the Philippines. such as commercial ﬁshing and mining.
their ecosystems may become more resilient than those of exploited areas. o r g Hawksbill turtle in the Apo Island Marine Reserve. and many critical ocean ecosystems. size. at times. and eggs across reserve boundaries. w w w. and hydrothermal vents. mangroves.20 Although marine reserves cannot directly reverse the impacts of climate change or pollution or severe physical damage. seamounts.16 Marine reserves can also beneﬁt ﬁsheries in surrounding waters as a result of spillover of ﬁsh.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 . the biomass of commercial ﬁsh species had tripled within the closed reserves. they can help to restore lost predator/prey relationships. ocean acidiﬁcation. larvae. Lucia.13 Marine reserves can result in long-lasting and often rapid increases in the abundance. the best way to address worsening climate change.Freedom for the Seas ties in the deep sea and open ocean. potentially mitigating some of the negative consequences. in areas outside the reserves. after three years of protection. support ﬁsheries management. © Greenpeace/Gavin Newman included in a network of marine reserves. only about 0. suggesting that up to 50 percent of the sea should be protected to conserve viable marine populations. Following the creation of a marine reserve in New Zealand. compared to pre-reserve abundance.12 (See Table 1.21 A well-designed global network of reserves could act as a series of stepping stones. the major target of hook-and-line ﬁsheries in the region.11 Of this.15 Similarly. including coral reefs.10 Despite the urgent need to provide such coverage. remain vulnerable. the World Parks Congress. 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. recommended that at least 20 to 30 percent of all ocean habitats be increases in the abundance of coral trout. saw a similar result: after only ﬁve years of protection. and many forms of marine pollution is to prevent these threats from occurring in the ﬁrst place. and productivity of marine organisms. an intergovernmental body that meets once a decade to set the agenda for protected areas. 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. the catch per unit of effort of a surrounding ﬁshery had increased by more than 60 percent.9 Others have called for an even more precautionary approach. biomass had doubled and average catches had increased 46 to 90 percent depending on the size of trap used.22 (Ultimately. where a habitat has been damaged through bottom trawling or other destructive activities.8 In 2003.19 Marine reserves can address the problems of ecosystem damage in cases where a species has been depleted by overﬁshing and. After ﬁve years. and assure sufﬁcient ecological connectivity.1 percent is fully protected. scientists have suggested that connected corridors of these key coastal habitats be protected together.17 At the Soufriere Marine Management Area in St.) Because of the associated functions of coral reefs. w o r l d w a t c h . and seagrass beds. 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).18 Marine reserves in the Red Sea. For instance. diversity. however. established in 1995. secure ecosystem processes. the Philippines. providing refuges for populations whose distribution is being forced to change as a result of climate change.
Table 1. a new marine protection law under development in the EU may bring greater protection of regional waters.Freedom for the Seas including by accelerating the transition to clean.27 Temporary and/or moveable reserves could also be used to protect migrating species like turtles that follow predictable routes across the oceans. as well as birds and other animals that risk being killed as bycatch. governments may be able to use satellite technologies to update ﬂeets about the positions of the designated reserves. In November 2005.24 Much of the success of the marine reserves in St. though implementation has been slow to date. Seamounts So far. the Canadian government legalized the Vents Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents MPA southwest of Vancouver as the nation’s first MPA. and that are particularly threatened or vulnerable to human impacts.26 It is also critical to protect areas that are important spawning and nursery grounds.23 A network of smaller coastal reserves has the advantage of spreading ﬁshery beneﬁts to nearby communities.32 At the global level.29 And in 2006. Bush w w w. President George W. many of which suffer from poor management and enforcement. certain areas on the high seas. that support outstanding concentrations of animals and plants. U. Seagrasses No MPAs have been designated solely for the protection of seagrasses. a variety of regional conventions have called for MPA networks in the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas and the northeast Atlantic. however. renewable energy. they are far more likely to support them. Finally. parties to the Convention on Biological O C E A N S I N P E R I L 31 . Sources: See Endnote 12 for this section.S. WWF worked with the Azores regional government to have the relatively shallow Lucky Strike and Menez Gwen vent fields designated as MPAs in 2002.000 square kilometers) of U. only 1. o r g designated the world’s largest marine conservation area off the coast of Hawaii. waters.4 percent of these are within fully protected no-take reserves. w o r l d w a t c h .000 square miles (363. Lucia can be attributed to the full involvement of various stakeholders from the planning stages onward. the grasses have been on lists of key habitats singled out when sites are recommended for protection. though greater protection is required for effective mangrove conservation. such as upwellings and oceanic convergence zones. deserve protection because of their high productivity. however. Level of Protection of Critical Marine Ecosystems Coral Reefs Globally. Mangroves About 9 percent of the world’s mangroves lie within MPAs. In the northeast Atlantic off Portugal. encompassing nearly 140. sustainable ﬁshing areas. relatively few seamount sites have been designated as marine reserves or MPAs. some 980 MPAs cover 18. Hydrothermal In March 2003. including relatively undisturbed coral reefs. 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. 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.31 Once adopted. and marine mammals. 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 2020.30 In Europe. If local ﬁshers feel a sense of ownership for their marine resources and are invited to participate in siting of reserves.) To be representative.7 percent of the world’s coral reef habitats. and that have high numbers of rare or endemic species.S. 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. including places that are biologically rich.25 A global reserve network should be representative of the broad spectrum of marine life. In cases where the location of such sites is not ﬁxed. turtles.33 In 2004. that are important to airbreathing aquatic animals like seabirds. well-managed. creating an area where removal of marine resources is not permitted without a license and approved research plan.28 The concept of fully protected marine reserves is gaining broader acceptance in both developing and industrialized countries. as with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Since the adoption of the U. but also requires them to take measures to protect and preserve the marine environment. 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. along with marine scientists and environmental groups. which was itself negotiated to implement some of the Articles of UNCLOS. control.”39 In December 2006. establishment. Among other things. and • Encourage the sharing of knowledge on highseas biodiversity through the creation of a publicly available list of species. founded on ecosystem-based management and the precautionary principle. It could be modeled on the U. are tasked with regulating this activity to ensure the protection of vulnerable ecosystems. precautionary. 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. and ecosystembased management approach to promote the conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment in areas beyond national jurisdiction. the U.N. the agreement could: • Provide a clear mandate and legal duty to protect high-seas biodiversity. Fish Stocks Agreement. and management of high-seas marine reserves.N. • Establish an effective centralized monitoring. selection. only a few ocean areas have been afforded protection from the highly damaging practice of bottom trawling. w w w.Freedom for the Seas Diversity (CBD) also committed to the establishment of such a network within this timeframe. There are advantages to developing such an implementing agreement under UNCLOS.34 However. 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. Several countries. 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. 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. from overﬁshing and destructive ﬁshing practices to marine pollution and climate change. w o r l d w a t c h . o r g .35 UNCLOS not only offers countries the right to use the oceans. and surveillance mechanism for human activities on the high seas. For instance. • Require that an environmental impact assessment be carried out before approval of any bioprospecting activities in the high seas. 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). resolution. A legally binding international agreement would not only help protect vulnerable marine ecosystems. the leading international treaty that governs countries’ rights and duties in the high seas. an advisory body to the U. 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. have been lobbying the United Nations to impose a moratorium on this activity in the high seas.40 Countries that ﬂag vessels that trawl in these areas.41 But action on these measures is still required to ensure adequate protection of deep-sea habitats. “global ﬁsheries authorities agree to eliminate bottom trawling on the high seas by 2006 and eliminate bottom trawling globally by 2010.N. as well as regional ﬁsheries management organizations with the competence to manage deep-sea ﬁsheries.37 Such an agreement would need to be supplemented by other efforts to address speciﬁc threats to the high seas. General Assembly agreed that some measures should be taken to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems from destructive high-seas bottom trawling.36 What is needed to ﬁll the present legal void in regulation is an integrated. • Provide a clear mandate for the identiﬁcation.38 In 2005.N.
the U. Overall. 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. These include processes under the U.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. the entire Doha Round of world trade talks was suspended. and the Caribbean are concerned they will lose their current trade advantages if such liberalization goes ahead. In a 2003 study. 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. causing problems of overﬁshing.45 In July 2006. it would be irresponsible for WTO members to engage in greater liberalization of ﬁsh trade. ﬁsheries trade liberalization would likely beneﬁt only a handful of industrialized. © Michael Renner 33 . Governments must also agree to phase out harmful subsidies that contribute to excess ﬁshing capacity. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “Code of Conduct” for Responsible Fisheries.47 If successful. Each year. Fish Stocks Agreement. and many countries in Africa.N. equipment. and negotiations have resumed only on an informal basis. ﬁsh-exporting countries and put increasing pressure on world ﬁsh stocks. the ﬁshing sector receives an estimated $30–34 billion in external support. and other operational costs that enable ﬂeets to ﬁsh beyond their capacity. they could lead to a broad prohibition of harmful subsidies in marine wild-capture ﬁsheries.43 However. rather than the WTO. Trade liberalization can also open developing-country waters to foreign export-oriented ﬂeets.N. is a more appropriate forum for such discussions because it focuses speciﬁcally on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity rather than on trade. Convention on Biological Diversity. 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.42 As part of the recent “Doha Round” of trade talks in the World Trade Organization (WTO). fuel.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. Until these international instruments are uniw w w. w o r l d w a t c h .48 But some critics. o r g versally adhered to and enforced. and unsustainable ﬁshing practices. stock declines. and reduction of marine biodiversity. and the World Summit on Sustainable Development’s Plan of Implementation.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. overﬁshing. the Paciﬁc. tariffs are often the last industrial policy instruments left to developing countries to protect domestic ﬁshing industries. Sri Lanka. leading to increased competition with ﬁsheries for wild feed. 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. say the U.N. $20 billion of which goes to boat construction.44 It also predicted that tariff reductions would stimulate aquaculture production. such as Greenpeace.
In addition. and to prescribe appropriate mitigation measures. including a starfish.50 In the case of tuna ﬁshing in the Paciﬁc. adding weights to longlines to accelerate sink rates. and Marine Mammals Tackling IUU ﬁshing could also help address the serious problem of marine bycatch by minimizing unregulated and unscrupulous ﬁshing activities. including full traceability of seafood products. Japan. and build the capacity to gain the full economic and social beneﬁts from their natural resources. and dyeing baits blue. and use of mitigation methods is also inconsistent or non-existent in many Southern Ocean ﬂeets. and the FAO international plan to prevent. Mexico. seabird deaths from bycatch declined from 6.51 By negotiating fairer deals. © 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. 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. and outlaw ﬂags of convenience. the amount that foreign ﬂeets pay countries for the them adopt sustainable seafood policies. and Taiwan lack such regulations. Fish Stocks Agreement. Acoustic alarms.N. and unregulated (IUU) ﬁshing both in coastal waters and on the high seas. the FAO model scheme for port control. Korea. however. Turtles.589 in 1997 to only 15 in 2003. the FAO set up an “International Plan of Action for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds in longline ﬁsheries. to develop a national plan of action for how to reduce it.57 Regional ﬁsheries management organizations can also play a greater role in addressing bycatch. deter.52 Mitigating Bycatch of Seabirds. such as by setting baited lines at night. 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 eliminate IUU ﬁshing. China. ensure continued livelihoods and incomes. control.58 Within the treaty area. if properly implemented. between Australia and New Zealand. Several international agreements already in place.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. Stronger global effort is also needed to address illegal. o r g Unwanted bycatch. it aims to encourage countries involved in longlining to identify where seabird bycatch is a problem. in 2006. setting them deep underwater through tubes. Russia.Freedom for the Seas access agreements are often in the hands of private companies that negotiate ‘sweetheart’ deals with sometimes-corrupt governments. Greater use of mitigation efforts is also needed to deal with the incidental capture or entanglement of marine mammals. far outweighs the target catch of orange roughy from a deep-sea trawl in international waters of the Tasman Sea. and the United States have all adopted mitigation methods to manage seabird mortality for some North Paciﬁc longline ﬁsheries. would provide comprehensive and effective measures against IUU ﬁshing. w o r l d w a t c h . coastal states can manage their resources in a sustainable way.” known as IPOA-SEABIRDS. though so far only the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has taken comprehensive mitigation action. Governments need to close ports and markets to such ﬁshers and their ﬁsh. which alert animals to the presence of w w w. Other solutions include establishing a central monitoring. unreported. prosecute companies that support IUU ﬁshing.54 Canada. and working to make ﬁshing activities less visible. the U.55 In 1998.56 A voluntary program. including the FAO Compliance Agreement.
000 in 1998. Other mitigation measures include the use of weights on the tops of ﬁshing nets that allow small marine mammals to swim over.Freedom for the Seas ﬁshing gear or cause them to swim away.73 In a move that could have a signiﬁcant impact on the seafood market. noncompliance still occurs. only around 6 percent (by quantity) of the world’s wild capture ﬁsheries were engaged in the MSC program. dolphin populations have not yet recovered.74 The London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). w o r l d w a t c h . In the United Kingdom.000 in 1986 to less than 2.62 In December 2005. 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. much more can be done to encourage both producers and conO C E A N S I N P E R I L 35 . Marine Mammal Protection Act has set a goal of reaching near-zero levels of incidental mortality of marine mammals.S. has certiﬁed more than 20 ﬁsheries worldwide and grants its blue eco-label to more than 600 sustainably sourced seafood products.S.76 Given that the global demand for seafood continues to rise.75 Even so. as of April 2007.67 TEDs have also been implemented in 15 other countries that export shrimp to the United States.72 The company no longer sells marlin. under the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas.70 Targeting Seafood Buyers and the Aquaculture Industry Because intergovernmental and even national policies can be difﬁcult to implement. 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. have been effective in the Gulf of Maine and the North Paciﬁc. the U. has pledged to sell only “MSC-certiﬁed” wild-caught fresh and frozen ﬁsh in North America within 3–5 years. for example.60 Marine mammal bycatch is also being addressed at the international level.68 While TED programs have been cited as a “success story” of bycatch mitigation.S.66 The chronic effects of prolonged chase and frequent capture may be impairing breeding success.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. a leading accreditor of sustainable ﬁsheries.64 As a result of innovative mitigation measures to guarantee “dolphinsafe” tuna—including changes in ﬁshing gear and net-setting. an intergovernmental treaty that provides the legal framework for countries in the Americas to take actions to beneﬁt sea turtles. o r g agencies and by the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles. and orange roughy due to concerns about ﬁshing methods or sustainability. releasing live animals from ﬁshing gear. This work has been conducted by several U. the Agreement for the International Dolphin Conservation Program for the Eastern Paciﬁc.61 The Cetacean Bycatch Resource Center. sturgeon products.71 One way to do this is by mandating strict seafood labeling that requires producers to disclose where and how the ﬁsh was caught. Wal-Mart. and hand rescue by divers— dolphin mortality from the U. shark. U.63 In the United States. and the International Whaling Commission.65 But although recent mortality should no longer be signiﬁcant from a population point of view. and modiﬁcation of ﬁshing gear or practices. government w w w. the supermarket chain Waitrose now provides information on the origins of all seafood sold at its fresh ﬁsh counters.69 More research is also needed to develop effective turtle bycatch mitigation techniques for longline ﬁsheries. bycatch of sea turtles has been addressed in part by mandating the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in the shrimp trawling industry. established in 2002 with the support of WWF. the world’s largest food retailer.S. tuna ﬁshery dropped from an estimated 133. a bottom-up approach—stimulating consumer market demand for “sustainable seafood”— can serve as a parallel means to encourage more responsible ﬁshing practices.
Efﬂuent wastes from aquaculture can be reduced by using integrated systems to efﬁciently utilize food and water resources. it represents a signiﬁcant step forward. and losses of radioactive substances to the marine environment by 2020. In 1998. agreed to in December 2006. emission. and increase productivity.88 Environmental groups are now demanding that the industry pay for the damage caused by accidents through full and w w w. they will leave a legacy for years to come as they continue to leach out from materials and persist in the environment. increasing) discharges from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants. in part because of parallel efforts to develop stricter chemicals regulations within Europe. such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). requires governments to take measures to eliminate or reduce releases of certain well-known persistent chemicals. The new REACH (Registration. over some periods.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). implementation has been limited here too by the ongoing (and. Japan. But seafood labeling can be tricky. governments can pass enforceable regulations on the positioning of aquaculture facilities.83 Since then.87 In the end. including the most commonly used brominated ﬂame retardants. both the ﬁshing industry and governments have promoted farmed ﬁsh as a “sustainable” solution to ﬁshery depletions. OSPAR has also adopted a precautionary strategy to tackle radioactive pollution. 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. but global action will ultimately be needed. However. Alongside its chemicals target. with the ultimate target of near-background or near-zero levels.86 The agreement requires progressive and substantial reduction in discharges. o r g . rather than through any radical change in policy or practice. emissions. the legacy of radioactive pollution of marine ecosystems in the northeast Atlantic will continue to grow.78 To protect coastal ecosystems such as wetlands and mangroves. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). with the exception of some herbivorous shellﬁsh farms and freshwater herbivorous ﬁsh farms. which entered into force in May 2004. real progress may be achieved only as existing nuclear facilities reach the end of their working lives. 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. despite their potential toxicity to marine life (so far. an issue of long-standing disagreement in northern Europe. in 1995 the International Maritime Organization agreed to regulations for a global phase out of singlehulled oil tankers. 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. exacerbates the problems of overﬁshing due to the use of wild ﬁsh for feed. In the meantime. and loss of all hazardous substances to the marine environment by 2020. the list of hazardous substances identiﬁed by OSPAR for priority action has grown from 12 to more than 40. China. one form of the chemicals has been proposed for the list and another is under review for inclusion). reduce costs.79 Combating Marine Pollution Wide-ranging efforts are also needed to tackle the myriad sources of marine pollution. With regard to oil pollution. Evaluation and Authorisation of CHemicals) legislation. even if many POPs are phased out globally. w o r l d w a t c h .Freedom for the Seas sumers to support sustainable seafood.80 But the treaty does not apply to any brominated ﬂame retardants.82 Unfortunately. and the United States.84 But implementation has been slow. Governments could also eliminate subsidies for ecologically unsound aquaculture and impose ﬁnes to help reduce escapes by farmed species into the wider environment.77 To address the negative effects of aquaculture.81 Several of these substances are being regulated on a national or regional level in Europe. But most aquaculture. For instance.
this would also help lessen nutrient inputs to the coastal marine environment. and school and public education programs. The most far reaching of these. A school of jacks in Apo Island Marine Reserve. and national initiatives aim to protect the oceans from marine debris. and recycling as well as producer responsibility and eco-friendly design. reuse.Freedom for the Seas unlimited liability along a chain of responsibilities. 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. even with full global compliance with the treaty these sources would remain. managers. However. the Philippines. however. renewable energy. through the establishment of networks of large-scale. however. Although the state of the Earth’s oceans has deteriorated rapidly in recent years. given that most of this debris originates on land. international. Protecting the myriad of marine life—from the largest whales to the smallest planktonic creature—is necessary not only for its own sake. campaigns to prevent losses due to poor industrial practice. w o r l d w a t c h . Together with more sustainable farming methods. reducing the problem of marine debris will require a “zerowaste” strategy that encompasses waste reduction. Unless urgent action is taken. there is an urgent need to phase out the use of oil and to move toward clean. The implemen- tation of the ecosystem approach. from the owners.90 There is some evidence that the implementation of MARPOL has reduced the marine debris problem. but for ours too. Ultimately. In light of the toxicity of oil spills and the emerging threats of climate change. however. fully protected marine reserves and the sustainable management of surrounding waters.89 A variety of global. The Future There is still much to learn about the complex ecology of our oceans. 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 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships (MARPOL).91 Other measures to address marine debris include manual clean-up operations. there is also growing scientiﬁc evidence that these negative trends could be reversed. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 37 . 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. the greatest remaining global commons. © Greenpeace/Gavin Newman w w w. 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. helping to slow the expansion of dead zones and ultimately reversing this trend. and operators of vessels to any charterers or owners of the cargo.
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6 Arctic Ocean. 8. 14. 30 pollution from. 22 Caribbean Sea biodiversity in. 19–21 level of protection. 33 dolphins. 11 pollution and. 12 B Baltic Sea. 32. 33–36 in Indonesia. 11 ocean acidiﬁcation and. 20 Canada. 21 ecological approach and. w o r l d w a t c h . 35–36 beneﬁts. 14–15 ecological approach and. 18 mangrove forests. 32. 34. 34–35 threat to drift algae. 16–18 distant-water access agreements. 30. 16. 10 D dead zones. 8.Index A acidiﬁcation of oceans. 27 CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity). diversity of. 22 in mangrove forests. 30 coastal zone biodiversity of. 8. 17 Great Barrier Reef. 26 climate change changing seas and. 22–23. 35 Bangladesh. 21–23. 35 IUU ﬁshing. 34 Cetacean Bycatch Resource Center. 36 ﬁshery depletions. 10. 8 climate changes and. 35–36 feed considerations. 35 chemical contamination. 10. 11 Barents Sea. 31–32 CCAMLR. 6 mangrove forests and. 15 in mangrove forests. 24–25 bioaccumulative pollutants. 16–17 mangrove forests. 15–16 mangrove forests and. 24–25 in seagrass beds. 18 Brazil. 11–12 bottom trawling and. 26 Africa. 31 sustainable management of. 10 C California. 21 Atlantic Ocean climate changes and. 12 marine reserves and. 36 ﬁshery depletion and. 22. 24. 10. 12. 9–12 climate changes and. 9. 9–12 ecological approach to. 18 marine reserves and. 36 ﬁshery depletions. 11 pollution and. 33–34 Doha Round (WTO). o r g . 24 bioprospecting. 33 pollution in. 12. 11–12 Bush. 34 carbon dioxide emissions. 15 disease seaweed and. 32 impact of. 17–18. 36 pollution and. 18. 30 Adriatic Sea. 36–37 52 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. 24 ecosystem approach with aquaculture industry. 28 Southeast Asia. 10 in deep sea. 33–34 for marine pollution. 12 cyanide. 5. 20–21 ecological approach in. George W. 35 drift algae. 19. 15. 13. 9 bird species. 33. 26. 17–18. 19–20 coral reefs biodiversity in. 6 ecological approach. 14–15 IUU ﬁshing. 34 Antarctica. 35–36 Denmark. 31 bycatch. 11 threats to marine life. 32 aquaculture industry. see also aquaculture industry destructive methods. 19–23 ecological approach to. 9–10. see also seabirds climate changes and. 33 Albatross Task Force. 12 BirdLife International. 9 dugong. 9–10 marine reserves and. 16 spread of. 6 for bycatch. 7–9 bottom trawling. 22 in open ocean. 25 commercial ﬁshing. 5. 7 farming. 7. 31 crustaceans in coral reefs. 30 mangrove forests. 13. 11 Australia ﬁshery depletions. 34 Black Sea. 36 Chile. 26 bottom trawling destructive nature of. 9 in seagrass beds. 5. 26 deep sea biodiversity in. 26 seamounts.. 16 China ecological approach and. 6. 9 coral bleaching. see also commercial ﬁshing ecosystem approach. 11 pollution and. 14–15 E East China Sea. 18 BFRs (brominated ﬂame retardants). 34–35 for commercial ﬁshing. 20.
27–28 Lithuania. see aquaculture ﬁsh species. 14. 33 Guam. 15. 12. 35 ﬁshery depletions. 8. 16 pollution and. 9 in deep sea. 9 N New Caledonia.N. 31 Mexico. 35 ﬁshery depletions. 15 marine reserves and. 11. 26 Norway. 34–35 industrially ﬁshed species. 31 hypothermia. 21 Estonia. 9 IPOA-SEABIRDS. 10–11. 15–16 pollution and. 20–21 ecological approach and. 34 microbes in mangrove forests. 26 jellyﬁsh. 17. 36 ﬁshery depletions and. 13–15 U. 12 MPAs (marine protected areas). 17 Gulf of Maine. 27. 24–28 O OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 31–34 IUU ﬁshing. 22 rising sea temperatures. 9–10 ﬁshery depletions and. 8 mining. 14. 13. 12 hydrothermal vents. Fish Stocks Agreement. 21. 31 pollution and. 20 Indonesia. 11 in open ocean. 21 Greenpeace. 18. 35 International Maritime Organization. 13. 10–11 ecological approach to. 27. 8 English Channel. 26 marine mammals along coral reefs. 7–8 in mangrove forests. 9 pollution and. 15–16. 11 endangered species. 34. 18. 15 France. 15 India. 8 ecological approach in. diversity of climate changes and. 27–28 marine ecosystems in coastal zone. 27 Honduras. 11. 31 marine debris. 31 I Iceland. 20 in seagrass beds. 9–10. 17. 8. 25 fungi in mangrove forests.Index for marine reserves. 18 efﬂuent discharge. 24. 10. 30. 14 Nigeria. 34–35 erosion. 29–32 mitigating bycatch. 12 industrial ﬁshing. 35 invertebrates coral reefs and. 35 Gulf of Mexico. 15 K Korea. 35 MARPOL. 18 in open ocean. 27 North Sea climate changes and. 36–37 open ocean biodiversity in. 31. 11 in seagrass beds. 11–12 mangrove forests. 12 ﬁsh stocks ecological approach. 29–32. 30 Great Ocean Conveyor Belt. 16. 10 mollusks in coastal zone. seabed. 11 North Paciﬁc Gyre. 9–10 Mediterranean Sea. 22 in coral reefs. 26 ghost ﬁshing. 7. 9 along seamounts. 33–34 ﬁsh farming. 26 Gulf Stream. 6. 15 Europe climate changes and. 24 Latvia. 5–6. 7–9 IUU ﬁshing. 34 G Galicia. 33 oil spills. 36 overﬁshing coral reefs and. 32–34 ﬁshery depletions. 11–12 endemism. 15 Lebanon. 26–27. 17 IUU ﬁshing. 36 ﬁshery depletion and. 7 ocean acidiﬁcation and. 28 status. 26 marine reserves. 31 w w w. 6. 15 OSPAR Commission. 8 New Zealand biodiversity in. 17 pollution and. 34 L lactational transfer. 9–12 in deep sea. 29. 5–6. 27 entanglement. 19–20. 8–9. 20. 13–18 Florida. 15–16 pollution and. 27 Exxon Valdez tanker. 11. 32 H Hawaii. 36 Egypt. 8 bycatch. 15 Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles. 11 manatees. 32 EEZs (exclusive economic zones). 5. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 53 . 37 Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). 9–11. 14 Greenland Ice Sheet.N. 28 Great Barrier Reef (Australia). 11 J Japan ecological approach and. 27 Indo-Paciﬁc Ocean. 18 pollution and. 13–18 in mangrove forests. 34–35 of sustainable management. 37 medicine. 14–15. 19. 10 in deep sea. 19 hurricanes. commercial harvesting for. 9–12. 17. 10 Gulf of California. 25–26 Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. 17 Indian Ocean. 34 Ireland. 16. Food and Agriculture Organization) agreement. 17–18. 34 F FAO (U. 18. 15 longline ﬁshing. 14–16 Malaysia. 36 International Whaling Commission. 20–21 ecological approach. w o r l d w a t c h . 9 industrial ﬁshing. 11 pollution and. 20. 21 M mackerel. 25 IUCN (World Conservation Union). 26 Newfoundland (Canada). 21 Greece. 9–10.
36–37 efﬂuent discharge. 25. 17. 16. 10. 9 U. 15 shrimp farming. 18 Spain. 29. 12 S salmon. 26–27 polar bears. 8 TED (turtle excluder device). rise in. 12 sea temperatures. 16 tourism. 9 ecosystem approach. 36 Red Sea. 35–36 swordﬁsh. 16–17. see also speciﬁc states. 35–36 upwelling systems. 15–17 Singapore. 32. 9. 8–9 sea levels. 30 Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 34 T Taiwan. 13–16 pollution and. 11 skates. 10. 14–16 rising sea temperatures and. 32–33 Fish Stocks Agreement. 8. 15. 16–17 scientiﬁc research. 17 V Vietnam. see sea temperatures Texas. 21 Sea of Japan. 13. 27 tsunamis. 34–35 United Nations on bycatch. 17–18 in open ocean. 22 poisons. 11 W Waitrose supermarket chain. 10. 10. 17 World Parks Congress. 11.Index ﬁshery depletions. 10 ﬁshery depletion. 35 temperatures. 6 seabirds along coral reefs. 25. 24–25 World Conservation Union (IUCN). 11 wave action. 34–35 climate changes and. see coral reefs rays. 33 St. 17. 27 U United Kingdom. 10 tuna ecological approach. 10–11 drift algae and. 12 level of protection. 10–12. 12 Sri Lanka. 20. 33 54 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w.S. 22 Philippines biodiversity in. 14. 31 seaweed. coral reefs. Lucia. 15 Prestige tanker. 23 ecological approach. 33 WWF. 30–31 in open ocean. 24–25 PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). 7. 24. 36 porpoises. 27. 17 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). 6. 22 pollution coral reefs and. 31 pollution and. 34 ﬁshery depletions and. 16 marine reserves. 34 Russia. Marine Mammal Protection Act. 34–35 drift algae. 16. 7 in seagrass beds. 24. 21. 21 as threat to marine life. 35 ﬁshery depletion and. 19. 24–28 marine reserves and. 32–34 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 33. 27 photosynthesis. 12 Thailand. 10–11 Southern Ocean climate changes and. 35 Portugal. 19 deep-sea species. 30 World Summit on Sustainable Development. 15 sponges in coastal zone. 36 Peru. 11. 14–15. 22 ecological approach in. 24–25 rainforests of the sea. 22 Southeast Asia. 12 WTO (World Trade Organization). 10 PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers). 10. o r g . 9 pollution and. 9. 9 depicted. 7–8 ecological approach in. 14–15 REACH legislation. 35 U. 11 threat to. 12 West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 24–26 on seamounts. 30–31 Stockholm Convention. 17 open ocean species. 36 sustainable management of high seas. 34 Tasmania. 35 as EEZ. 10. 13. 11. 12 POPs (persistent organic pollutants). 21 coral reefs and. 15 marine reserves and. 9 industrially ﬁshed species. 17–18. 8 seagrass beds bottom trawling and. 5 in coastal zone. w o r l d w a t c h . 22. 15. rising. 21 whales climate changes and.S. 36 marine life and. 17. 10. 30 seagrass beds and. 33 ecological approach of. 27–28 seagrass beds and. 14–15 South America. 19–21 seabed mining. 12 P Paciﬁc Ocean coral reefs. 8 Turkey. 9 in deep sea. 24 seamounts and. 12 seals. 15 pH values of oceans. 9 pollution and. 33–34 Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 10. 14 shellﬁsh. 15–16 sediments. 14 turtles bycatch of. 7–8. 24–25 seamounts. 9. 15 sharks. 32 United States. National Marine Fisheries Service. 35 water quality. 18 ﬁshery depletions. 31. 35 R radioactive substances. 9 bycatch. 31 in Thailand. 31–33 worms. 26 South Orkney Islands. 9. 37 pollution and. 35 Wal-Mart. 34 overﬁshing of. 12. 9 marine reserves and. 7. 21 plankton. 10 Z zero-for-zero tariffs. 32. 9 Papua New Guinea. 8.
Water. quantitative. 2001 158: Unnatural Disasters. 2002 161: Correcting Gender Myopia: Gender Equity. Women’s Welfare. 2001 151: Micropower: The Next Electrical Era. and Materials 169: Mainstreaming Renewable Energy in the 21st Century. 1998 On Economics. 1999 To order any of the above titles or to see a complete list of Reports. 1999 142: Rocking the Boat: Conserving Fisheries and Protecting Jobs. 2002 156: City Limits: Putting the Brakes on Sprawl. and educational institutions worldwide. and qualitative analysis of the major issues affecting prospects for a sustainable society.org/taxonomy/term/40 w w w.worldwatch. Population. nongovernmental organizations. w o r l d w a t c h . 2003 153: Why Poison Ourselves: A Precautionary Approach to Synthetic Chemicals. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 55 . 1998 138: Rising Sun. visit www. 2005 163: Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market. 2000 149: Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape. 2004 160: Reading the Weathervane: Climate Policy From Rio to Johannesburg. They are used as concise and authoritative references by governments. 2002 162: The Anatomy of Resource Wars. 2002 157: Hydrogen Futures: Toward a Sustainable Energy System. The Reports are written by members of the Worldwatch Institute research staff or outside specialists and are reviewed by experts unafﬁliated with Worldwatch. Institutions. 1998 140: Taking a Stand: Cultivating a New Relationship With the World’s Forests. 2003 167: Sustainable Development for the Second World: Ukraine and the Nations in Transition. Energy. and the Environment. 2003 166: Purchasing Power: Harnessing Institutional Procurement for People and the Planet. 1998 141: Losing Strands in the Web of Life: Vertebrate Declines and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. On Climate Change. 2000 148: Nature’s Cornucopia: Our Stakes in Plant Diversity. businesses. 2000 150: Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition. and Urbanization 172: Catch of the Day: Choosing Seafood for Healthier Oceans. and Security 173: Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace. 1999 145: Safeguarding the Health of Oceans. 2005 170: Liquid Assets: The Critical Need to Safeguard Freshwater Ecosytems. Gathering Winds: Policies To Stabilize the Climate and Strengthen Economies. 2007 168: Venture Capitalism for a Tropical Forest: Cocoa in the Mata Atlântica. 2003 164: Invoking the Spirit: Religion and Spirituality in the Quest for a Sustainable World. 1997 On Ecological and Human Health 165: Winged Messengers: The Decline of Birds. 2000 147: Reinventing Cities for People and the Planet. 2002 159: Traveling Light: New Paths for International Tourism. 2001 On Food.Other Worldwatch Reports Worldwatch Reports provide in-depth. 2006 171: Happer Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry. 1999 144: Mind Over Matter: Recasting the Role of Materials in Our Lives. 2001 154: Deep Trouble: The Hidden Threat of Groundwater Pollution.
and the Winslow Foundation. the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Kann Rasmussen Foundation. The Goldman Environmental Prize.. and economies. w o r l d w a t c h . the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. The Shared Earth Foundation. the Wallace Global Fund. the W. the Marianists of the USA. the United Nations Population Fund. Inc. Kellogg Foundation. the Wallace Genetic Foundation. the German Government. the V. in order to inspire people to demand new policies. in which the needs of all people are met without threatening the health of the natural environment or the well-being of future generations.About Worldwatch The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization that works for an environmentally sustainable and socially just society. the Johanette Wallerstein Institute. the Steven C. Worldwatch informs people around the world about the complex interactions among people. nature. 56 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. K. Support for the Institute is provided by the Blue Moon Fund. The Institute also receives ﬁnancial support from many individual donors who share our commitment to a more sustainable society. the United Nations Environment Programme. the Sierra Club. accessible. the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Shenandoah Foundation. and lifestyle choices. Worldwatch focuses on the underlying causes of and practical solutions to the world’s problems. By providing compelling. Leuthold Family Foundation. investment patterns. and fact-based analysis of critical global issues. o r g . the Norwegian Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
use of destructive ﬁshing methods.ORG . In addition. 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. This “ecosystem approach” is vital if we are to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations. WWW. pollution. Presently. Yet the biological diversity of marine habitats is threatened by the activities of one largely land-based species: us. 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.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. 76 percent of the world’s ﬁsh stocks are fully exploited or overexploited. and many species have been severely depleted. climate change and the related acidiﬁcation of the oceans is already having an impact on some marine ecosystems. The activities through which humans threaten marine life include overﬁshing. Current ﬁsheries management regimes contribute to the widespread market-driven degradation of the oceans by failing to implement and enforce adequate protective measures.WORLDWATCH. but for ours too. 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.
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