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Oceans in Peril
Protecting Marine Biodiversity
m i c h e l l e a l l s o p p, r i c h a r d pa g e , pau l j o h n s t o n , a n d d av i d s a n t i l l o
W O R L D WAT C H R E P O R T
Oceans in Peril
Protecting Marine Biodiversity
miche l le al lsopp, r ichard page, paul johnston, and dav id sant il lo
Greenpeace Research Laboratories, University of Exeter, UK
l i s a m a s t n y, e d i t o r
w o r l d wat c h i n s t i t u t e , wa s h i n g t o n , d c
© Worldwatch Institute, 2007 Published: September 2007 ISBN: 978-1-878071-81-1 Library of Congress Control Number: 2007935003
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On the cover: Bycatch on an Irish trawler.
Photograph © Lyle Rosbotham
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Table of Contents
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 The Diversity of the Oceans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Dangers of Fishery Depletions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Changing Climate, Changing Seas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Polluting the Marine Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Freedom for the Seas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Figures, Tables, and Sidebars Figure 1. Global Fish Harvest, Marine Capture and Aquaculture, 1950–2005 . . . . . . . . . . 13 Figure 2. Status of World Fish Stocks, 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Table 1. Level of Protection of Critical Marine Ecosystems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Sidebar 1. Effects of Climate Change on Arctic Marine Wildlife . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Sidebar 2. Impact of Climate Change on Antarctic Krill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Sidebar 3. Recent Major Oil Spills and Their Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
The authors would like to extend special thanks to Sari Tolvanen, Karen Sack, Jim Wickens, Oliver Knowles, Sebastián Losada, Daniel Mittler, Martin Attrill, and Mark Everard for their contributions to and/or review of this work. Jennifer Jacquet with the Sea Around Us Project in British Columbia also provided helpful comments on an early draft of this report. At Worldwatch, many thanks go to Senior Editor Lisa Mastny for her efforts in whittling down the extensive text to the target length. Art Director Lyle Rosbotham lent his expert touch to the design and layout and worked closely with Greenpeace staff to select the diverse photos of marine life. Others at Worldwatch who provided valuable input or feedback include Courtney Berner, Bob Engelman, Brian Halweil, Darcey Rakestraw, Patricia Shyne, and Julia Tier.
About the Authors
Michelle Allsopp is a research consultant based at the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, located within the School of Biosciences at the University of Exeter, UK. Michelle obtained her PhD in biomedicine from the University of Exeter and Postgraduate Medical School of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in 1991. She has since written and published numerous reports for Greenpeace over a period of more than 10 years, including recent reviews on the global distribution and impacts of marine litter, on persistent organic pollutants in marine wildlife, and on the science of ocean fertilization. Richard Page graduated in ecology from Kings College, London in 1983. He has worked for Greenpeace for the past 14 years, mainly on ocean protection issues. Richard has a longstanding interest in the protection of whales and other cetaceans and is currently responsible for coordinating Greenpeace’s work to secure a global network of fully protected marine reserves. Paul Johnston is principal scientist at the Greenpeace Research Laboratories and head of the Science Unit for Greenpeace International. He obtained his PhD from the University of London in 1984 for research into the aquatic toxicity of selenium. Paul now has 20 years experience in providing scientiﬁc advice to Greenpeace ofﬁces around the world, has published extensively on environmental pollution, marine ecosystem protection, and sustainability, and has contributed to numerous expert groups and committees, including the recently concluded GESAMP Working Group on sources of oil to the marine environment. David Santillo is a senior scientist with the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, with more than 10 years experience in providing analytical support and scientiﬁc advice to Greenpeace ofﬁces worldwide. David is a marine and freshwater biologist who obtained his PhD from the University of London in 1993 for research into nutrient uptake by oceanic plankton. Aside from publishing papers and reports on a range of science and science policy issues, David has represented Greenpeace at various international treaties aimed at protecting the oceans over many years, including more than a decade as an observer within the London Convention.
O C E A N S
P E R I L
w w w. w o r l d w a t c h . o r g
The freedom they speak of is essentially freedom from human exploitation—from nets. Consider marine reserves. w o r l d w a t c h . just one element of a new “ecosystem approach” to managing the seas that is critical to protecting the oceans for future generations.1 percent of the oceans is fully protected. we face a growing shortage of this once-bountiful food source. Alternatively. the diversity of sea life is fading. By treating the oceans with more respect and by using them more wisely. Oceans in Peril: Protecting Marine Biodiversity. This surprising conclusion. As this paper demonstrates. and knives—and the freedom to heal from past overuses. Yet we continue to invest in wasteful and shortsighted ﬁshing techniques. scientists. From coral reefs overwhelmed by coastal runoff to tiny but ecologically vital plankton that are suffering from climate change. can provide healthy seafood without any feeds. Just as meat that originates in a factory farm is different from meat that comes from animals raised on pasture. This is a key message of this latest Worldwatch report. ﬂeets are forced to probe farther and deeper to ﬁnd their targets.” write the authors of Oceans in Peril. For example. Worldwatch Institute w w w. dredges.Preface nyone familiar with the state of the world’s oceans would have a hard time feeling optimistic. scallops. ﬁsh farming that focuses on large. But currently. It’s a simple change in perception. most recently in Catch of the Day (2006) and Happier Meals (2005). The good news is that there is a way out of this predicament. but the ramiﬁcations couldn’t be more important. carnivorous species like salmon and tuna consumes many times more ﬁsh in the form of feed than it yields for human consumption. such as clams. These reserves. which make swaths of the oceans off-limits to damaging human activities. only about 0. Fishing subsidies are so bloated that roughly a third of the global ﬂeet is considered unnecessary. we can obtain more from these life-supporting waters while also maintaining healthy and diverse marine ecosystems. the differences between “good” and “bad” seafood are many. hooks. “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. —Brian Halweil. we have sought to illustrate that feed- A ing ourselves doesn’t have to come at the expense of a healthy environment. Through our research and analysis. raising ﬁsh that is low in the food chain. it also destroys deep-water coral reefs and other rich habitats that nurture the ﬁsh we do want to catch. activists. trawlers. 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. can protect whole ecosystems and enable ﬁsh and other species to recover and ﬂourish. And as nearshore ﬁsh populations collapse. and other mollusks. Just as nutritionists are discovering how healthy and beneﬁcial seafood really is. Destructive bottom trawling not only catches tons of unwanted species. and the ﬁshing industry itself are already showing what a shift in perspective—and in governmental policies—can mean for the oceans. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 5 .
This “ecosystem approach” is vital if we are to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations. Presently. climate change and the related acidiﬁcation of the oceans is already having an impact on some marine ecosystems. and commercial aquaculture. The burden of proof must be placed on those who want to undertake activities. w w w. An ecosystem approach requires protection at the level of the whole ecosystem. These provide protection of whole ecosystems and enable biodiversity to both recover and ﬂourish. In other words. Paramount to the application of this approach is the establishment of networks of fully protected marine reserves—in essence. pollution. Outside of the reserves. 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. rather than as two separate and mutually exclusive goals. “national parks” of the sea. the Earth is a sphere dominated by watery oceans. where most ﬁsheries management measures focus simply on single species and do not consider the role of these species in the wider ecosystem. It is a holistic approach that considers environmental protection and marine management together. 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. They also beneﬁt ﬁsheries by allowing for spillover of ﬁsh and larvae or eggs from the reserve into adjacent ﬁshing grounds. An ecosystem approach is also precautionary in nature. The activities through which humans threaten marine life include overﬁshing. yet the biological diversity of marine habitats is threatened by the activities of one largely land-based species: us. and many species have been severely depleted. Life almost certainly originated in the oceans. This is radically different from the current practice.Summary U niquely among the universe’s known planets. an ecosystem approach requires the sustainable management of ﬁsheries and other resources. In addition. such as ﬁshing or coastal development. They cover 70 percent of its surface and are home to a myriad of amazing and beautiful creatures. Demands on marine resources must be managed within the limits of what the ecosystem can provide indefinitely. 76 percent of the world’s ﬁsh stocks are fully exploited or overexploited. w o r l d w a t c h . rather than being allowed to expand as demographic and market forces dictate. Current ﬁsheries management regimes contribute to the widespread market-driven degradation of the oceans by failing to implement and enforce adequate protective measures. o r g 6 . meaning that a lack of knowledge should not excuse decision-makers from taking action. but rather lead them to err on the side of caution. 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. largely due to our growing appetite for seafood. to show that these activities will not harm the marine environment. use of destructive ﬁshing methods. 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.
32 occur in the sea.The Diversity of the Oceans F ar from being watery voids. © NOAA and MBARI/Greenpeace w w w. such as lowland tropical rain forests. including worms.8 Undersea mountains rising to 1. only one phylum occurs exclusively on land. sea stars. The most diverse marine ecosystems. near-freezing temperatures. However.9 Because enhanced currents carry a ﬂow of food particles to the mounts. They cover 70 percent of the planet’s surface and provide shelter and food for some 210. averaging 3. and sponges. and jellyﬁsh to some 2.6 Deep-sea sediments are home to an even higher diversity of small animals. including visually striking corals.7 Estimates of the total number of undescribed species in the deep sea range from 500.000 to as high as 10 million. such as coral reefs. sponges. it supports a surprisingly high diversity of life.1 * Of the 33 animal phyla that exist worldwide.000 meters or more above the sea ﬂoor appear to host a particularly wide diversity of deep-sea life. animal life has only been studied on some 230 of the estimated 50.000 known species.650 known species of bottom-dwelling deep-sea ﬁsh. Davidson Seamount. on which are superimposed trenches and other features that provide habitat for creatures ranging from sea stars.10 Other invertebrates present include crustaceans. some of which form huge O C E A N S I N P E R I L Crab on sponge. crustaceans. †Units of measure throughout this report are metric unless common usage dictates otherwise. anemones. w o r l d w a t c h . may have levels of species diversity similar to the richest terrestrial ecosystems. and bristle worms. and 5 are nearly so. and scarce energetic supplies. o r g 7 . sea urchins.11 Many ﬁsh species are also associated with seamounts.2 kilometers in depth. *Endnotes are grouped by section and begin on page 38. they tend to be dominated by ﬁlter or suspension feeders. the open ocean. brittle stars. 15 are exclusively marine. the Earth’s oceans are home to a rich and colorful variety of life. mangroves. The Deep Sea The deep sea.000 seamounts worldwide.4† Despite its darkness. and specialized coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs.3 This diversity is distributed among differing habitats including the deep sea. Pacific Ocean. mainly of mud ﬂats.5 About 50 percent of the deep-sea ﬂoor is an abyssal plain.2 In contrast. and seagrasses. mollusks. and tiny single-celled organisms known as Foraminifera. mollusks. comprises nearly all of the oceans’ extent except for the shallow continental shelves next to the Earth’s landmasses.
700 species are known to roughy have been depleted on seamounts around Australia and New Zealand.23 In 1977. which gush hot water into the cold. methane. Bob Embley. and considerably less total biomass. and the blind vent shrimp.000kilometer seam of geological activity. a 60.29 The more-accessible hydrothermal vents are potentially threatened by human activities such as submarine-based tourism. 2. and stocks of orange O C E A N S I N P E R I L 8 . 44 percent of ﬁshes and 52 percent of bottom-dwelling invertebrates were endemic.25 Vent animals are unique in that they do not rely ultimately on sunlight as an energy source.26 At any given vent site. but the abundance of animals is generally high. slow growth. marine mammals. of vent sites may exist along the ridges.27 Enormous densities of a giant clam-like organism and a giant mussel have been found near vents of the eastern Paciﬁc. On two seamount chains in the Paciﬁc off Chile.20 Trawling impacts on local reefs were also dramatic. and seabed mining.13 In total. scientiﬁc research.24 Yet more than 550 different species have been found at the 100-some vent sites studied so far. but rather on chemosynthetic bacteria that live off the hydrogen sulﬁde in the vent ﬂuids. and seabirds frequently congregate over the features as well. Chief Scientist occur in and around these “underwater oases. such as tube worms. if not thousands.19 A study off southern Tasmania found that heavily ﬁshed seamounts had 46 percent fewer species per sample than unﬁshed seamounts.The Diversity of the Oceans aggregations.17 Seamounts have faced intensive pressure from trawl ﬁsheries—which can scour the ocean ﬂoor with giant nets—since the 1960s. with the coral substrate and associated community largely removed from the heavily ﬁshed areas. between 24 and 43 percent of the invertebrate species collected were new to science. scientists discovered that the vents were populated with an extraordinary array of animal life. While most vent diversity is attributed to small. the diversity of species may be relatively low. and long life (from about 70 to hundreds of years). High biological diversity is also a feature of hydrothermal vents on the sea bottom. often very acidic. w o r l d w a t c h .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.12 Migratory tuna.30 One specialized w w w. o r g A dense bed of hydrothermal mussels and shrimp clusters around an undersea volcano near Champagne vent in the western Pacific. the sites tend to be dominated by a few large and visually striking species. and various metals.28 Vent environments also support among the highest levels of microbial diversity on the planet. but only an estimated 10 percent of the system has been explored for hydrothermal activity. or species found nowhere else on Earth. and enriched with hydrogen sulﬁde. deep ocean. despite their seemingly hostile environment. many seamount species are especially vulnerable to depletion. NOAA PMEL. Paciﬁc Ring of Fire 2004 Expedition. one study described 263 different species on seamounts near New Caledonia. without oxygen.16 Because of their endemism. are concentrated mainly along the Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. The ﬂuid from vents is hot (up to 407 degrees Celsius). NOAA Ofﬁce of Ocean Exploration. Dr. as well as several species of ﬁsh.15 Some seamount studies also report high rates of endemism. as were 31–36 percent of species in seamounts south of New Caledonia.21 Such vents. In a study off southern Tasmania. vent clams.” 14 New species have been found on nearly every seamount studied. inconspicuous animals.22 Hundreds.
jellyﬁsh.37 The Coastal Zone Shallow coastal waters. they have been called “rainforests of the sea.500 ﬁsh species inhabit the world’s coral reefs—more than a quarter of all marine ﬁsh species. Open-ocean features that favor high biodiversity include oceanic “fronts” where cold and warm water collide and “upwellings” where deep. and zinc. among them island atolls and the 2.000 to 4. which ﬂoat on the sea surface in occasional clumps.48 And new reef species are still being discovered.47 Among the ﬁsh discovered were two species of bottom-dwelling sharks that use their pectoral ﬁns to “walk” across the seaﬂoor. with optimal habitats characterized by warm. scientiﬁc research may pose a greater threat to some of the most-visited vent sites due to concentrated sampling and other practices.36 But in some areas. and vessel trafﬁc. or as expansive mats spanning several kilometers. is capable of reaching depths of 1. w w w. the abundance and diversity of biological communities in the open ocean— away from the coast or seaﬂoor—is only beginning to be understood. and comprise roughly a third of tropical coastlines.The Diversity of the Oceans deep-sea submersible. and chemicals sectors. occur in more than 100 countries.000 reef species have been named and described. including 24 ﬁsh and 20 corals. animals. o r g fertilizer. nurtured by plentiful sunlight and warm temperatures. and sea squirts. including coral reefs. mollusks.40 Because coral reefs are the most biologically diverse oceanic ecosystems. four turtle species. sustain a large proportion of the world’s ﬁsheries.35 Drift algae. While most marine bioprospecting has taken place in shallower waters.000-kilometer-long Great Barrier Reef off Australia.45 Sea turtles and certain seabirds and marine mammals are also associated with reef environments. w o r l d w a t c h .300 square kilometers of oceans. Recent research off the coast of Indonesia’s Papua Province found more than 50 species that are likely new to science. drift algae are under threat from commercial harvesting for food. and there is currently no legal regime to regulate such activities.38 They can form very thick limestone structures. gold. biodiversity is highest at the intermediate latitudes.42 Centers of particularly high diversity are the southern Caribbean Sea and the tropical Indo-West Paciﬁc Ocean.39 The ability of corals to construct these massive frameworks sets them apart from all other marine ecosystems. dense. sea cucumbers. and several seabirds. and medicine. and usually nutrient-rich water moves toward the ocean surface. They provide vital support for at least 280 species of ﬁsh.” 41 As many as 100. scheduled for use in 2009. In this zone. and is also frequented by blue whales. commercial ﬁshing. are home to some of the richest marine ecosystems.31 However. One 125.34 Upwelling systems. though estimates range as high as 1 to 3 million. Coral reefs cover an estimated 284. mangrove forests. and seagrass beds. The Open Ocean As in the deep sea. oxygen-rich waters.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.43 Most corals derive at least some of their nutrition from photosynthesis by algae that live within them. form another important open-ocean habitat. as elongated lines.700 meters and will dredge the seaﬂoor for copper. Other reef-dwelling species include sponges. where the most biologically rich reefs house as many as 600 coral species alone. pharmacology.44 An estimated 4. meanwhile. scientists are beginning to appreciate the valuable resources of the deep ocean. many invertebrates. as well as from pollution. supporting phytoplankton growth. crustaceans.32 This and other “bioprospecting”—the exploration of biodiversity for scientiﬁc and commercial purposes—poses a growing threat to the marine environment. 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 . and microorganisms contain unique biochemicals that could be useful in the health. livestock fodder.33 Many plants. worm-like animals. cooler.
coral disease.52 Coral reefs also help to shelter beaches and coastlines from storm surges and wave action.54 Yet coral reefs are in serious decline globally. In 1999. increasingly. And reef organisms themselves have proven useful in pharmaceutical development— providing an HIV treatment. leading to serial depletion of large reef ﬁshes and the death of other species. affecting more than 150 species in the Caribbean and Indo-Paciﬁc alone. reefs mined before the mid-1970s have shown little recovery.64 Fishers often use cyanide to stun and collect the creatures. with a shift toward ﬂeshy seaweed-dominated ecosystems. mussels.67 (See pp. and. reefs subject to such pollution stresses showed a 30 to 60 percent reduction in species diversity. may be due to greater seaweed growth. 19–20 for a discussion of coral bleaching. people harvest a large diversity of reef species: for example.57 Some 50 reef ﬁsh species are now listed as “threatened. reef ﬁsheries provide food and livelihood for tens of millions of people in the tropics and subtropics.60 In a study in Indonesia. Increased disease. diversity. coral “bleaching” as sea temperatures rise. w o r l d w a t c h . and in many areas it is now rare to see a ﬁsh over 10 centimeters long. as species that prey upon the starﬁsh were depleted.63 Many live corals. showing no immediate signs of recovery.65 Meanwhile.58 Overﬁshing can remove species that perform critical functions for reef maintenance. can increase the run-off of sediments and nutrients to reefs. and may explain the massive outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starﬁsh on the Great Barrier Reef since the 1960s. such as the Caribbean and southern Florida. 250 in the Tigak Islands of Papua New Guinea. and Japan. located just north and south of the Equator. the restaurant and hotel industries.56 The greatest immediate threats to reefs are overﬁshing and pollution from poor landmanagement practices. meanwhile.51 In total.53 Reefs also support extensive recreational and tourist activities. 10 O C E A N S I N P E R I L reducing key ﬁsh and invertebrate species to low levels.48 Of the estimated 30 million small-scale ﬁshers in the developing world.50 A growing threat to reefs is the booming commercial ﬁsheries trade. most depend to some extent on coral reefs for harvesting ﬁsh. and the liveﬁsh trade of Southeast Asia.55 Problems include a decline in coral cover and biodiversity. As of 2004. and ﬁsh. 24 percent were under imminent risk of collapse through human pressures.49 In some regions. ﬁsh. and inputs to cancer drug research. or physical debilitation of corals following repeated bleaching events. two of the most dominant reef-building corals have largely disappeared as a result of outbreaks of white band and white pox diseases. seaweeds. reducing light penetration and/or oxygen levels and smothering corals. Europe. reefassociated ﬁsheries account for at least 10 percent of world marine ﬁshery landings. some of the most severe damage occurred along coastlines that had suffered heavy reef mining and damage.62 Coral mining for building materials has caused extensive reef degradation in parts of the Paciﬁc. the number of new coral diseases and disease outbreaks has increased dramatically since the 1990s. and other products. sea cucumbers. leading to declines in coral cover.” most due to exploitation. and 300 around Guam.66 In the Caribbean.59 Intensiﬁed urbanization and agriculture. and 26 percent were under longer-term threat of collapse.61 Other threats to reefs include coral mining and removal. elevated nutrient concentrations on reefs. Mangroves grow in the intertidal zone between land and sea and support numerous species as well as w w w.The Diversity of the Oceans ing practices. which supplies export markets. coupled in some areas.) Other rich coastal ecosystems under threat are the world’s mangrove forests. crustaceans. in turn. some 209 species are taken at Bolinao in the Philippines. a painkiller. an estimated 20 percent of the world’s reefs had been destroyed. and invertebrates are also collected for sale to aquarium lovers in the United States. a global survey of over 300 coral reefs in 31 countries reported that overﬁshing had occurred on most reefs. o r g . 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. Globally.
Nigeria. shellﬁsh. © Greenpeace/Marco Care 11 . and 400 in the Sundarban mangrove forest of Bangladesh. crustaceans. crabs. the rainbow parrotﬁsh. mangroves support many valuable ﬁsheries species. crab-eating frog.87 In addition. about a quarter are in Indonesia and another 20 percent are in Brazil. may have suffered local extinction due to loss of mangrove habitat. In Phang Nga province in Thailand. ﬁsh. Bengal tigers in India and Bangladesh. the presence of mangrove forests signiﬁcantly mitigated the impact of the 2004 tsunami.69 Of the approximately 175. roughly 60 percent of commercially important coastal ﬁsh are directly associated with mangrove habitats. an estimated 35 percent of the original area of mangrove forests has been lost in the last two decades alone. o r g groves in the Caribbean showed that where coral reefs were connected with mangrove habitat. 260 in Vietnamese mangroves.77 Loss of mangroves can cause inland saltwater intrusion and deterioration of groundwater quality.74 In addition to being important habitats. many marine species use mangroves as nursery areas or predation refuges for larvae and juveniles. and rare orchids in Singapore.72 As many as 117 ﬁsh species were recorded in the Matang mangrove waters of Malaysia. with the highest diversity occurring in Southeast Asia. the abundance of several commercially important species more than doubled compared to reefs that were not near mangroves. and leaf monkey in Southeast Asia. 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. mangroves have been planted to prevent storm damage.73 Mangroves also support several endangered species. manatees in Florida. China.000 square kilometers of mangrove forests that remain.71 Mangrove forests support extensive populations of birds.82 The study also suggested that the largest herbivorous ﬁsh in the Atlantic. and Vietnam. down from 75 percent historically.86 In many cases. and Australia.76 Mangroves also maintain water quality in coastal zones by trapping sediments. pollution. and medicinal plants.81 A recent study of manw w w.80 Although few ﬁsh are permanent residents. Yet despite their importance. Yet reefs like Samadai in Egypt’s Tondoba Bay. with mangroves now occupying only 25 percent of tropical coastlines. mangroves help stabilize coastlines and reduce erosion. industrial. such as the milky stork.70 A total of 69 mangrove species has been documented worldwide. and uncontrolled coastal development.75 In Bangladesh. organic material.The Diversity of the Oceans protecting coastlines from storms. industrial forestry.68 Total loss is estimated at more than 50 percent. as well as reptiles and mammals. above.78 Mangroves provide a rich source of nutrients for the many invertebrates and ﬁsh that inhabit them. large areas of forests have been destroyed to make room for shallow. Coastal communities in many developing countries are very dependent upon mangrove ecosystems for sustainable harvests of ﬁsh. w o r l d w a t c h . and tourist facilities.83 At a commercial level. In Fiji and India. and agricultural. as forests are converted for aquaculture. microbes.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. and fungi.79 They also export food that supports near-shore species such as shrimps and prawns.85 Large-scale mangrove destruction is a relatively recent phenomenon. are threatened by overfishing. including an estimated 80 percent of all marine species of commercial or recreational value in Florida. mangroves have been considered wastelands by governments and planners whose approach has been to drain them and ﬁll them in. livestock fodder. and nutrients—an activity that can help the functioning of nearby coral reefs.
but only in a few places are measures being implemented to address these threats. they support a large variety of species. four-meter-long blades of eelgrass in the Sea of Japan. At Laguna Madre. ﬁshes. the manatee and dugong. Texas.93 In addition. the presence of seagrass beds was reported to have signiﬁcantly mitigated the impact of the 2004 tsunami. mollusks.91 Because seagrasses are highly productive and provide physically complex environments.000 hectares has been documented. Over the last decade.89 threatened marine mammals. a recent study showed that seagrass beds in some areas of the Caribbean provided key nursery habitat for the threatened Indo-Paciﬁc humphead wrasse. worm-like animals.97 Seagrass beds also provide food.98 (In fact. including sponges. For example.92 Seagrass beds also provide a critical food source for two 12 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. Rising sea temperatures could also alter seagrass growth rates and other physiological functions. sea anemones. Seagrasses grow submerged in shallow marine and estuarine environments along most continental coastlines and represent some 60 species of underwater ﬂowering plants. and nursery habitat for many marine species.100 Several reports have associated the loss of seagrass habitat with declining ﬁsh catches.The Diversity of the Oceans dyked ponds for shrimp farming. including juveniles of exploited ﬁsh and shellﬁsh.95 Because of their interlacing rhizome/root mat.000 hectares of seagrasses by hindering plant growth. and certain waterfowl and wading birds. © Greenpeace/Roger Grace A ﬁnal key area of marine biodiversity under threat is seagrass beds. o r g . increased turbidity from continuous maintenance dredging caused the loss of 14. contributing to human-induced climate change.101 Threats include dredging operations. they have been reported to remain intact even through high wind and wave action during hurricanes in the Caribbean.90 They vary in structure from the tiny 2–3 centimeter rounded leaves of sea vine in Brazil’s tropical waters to the straplike. sea squirts. most commercially valuable species appear to be seasonal or temporary seagrass residents. and pollution.102 Other dangers include boat propellers and the dragging of ﬁshing nets and dredges across beds to collect shellﬁsh.99 Increasing coastal development over the past several decades has led to seagrass losses throughout the world.88 The recent massive losses of mangrove forests have resulted in the release of large quantities of stored carbon. shelter. a total loss of 290. seagrass declines have been linked to multiple stresses. though the true ﬁgure may be above 1.2 million hectares. corals. seagrass beds serve to stabilize shorelines and reduce wave impacts.94 Like coral reefs and mangroves.) Seagrasses are also thought to function as important nurseries for many coral reef ﬁshes. reduced water clarity from nutrient and sediment inputs. seagrass detritus may represent an important food input to coastal ﬁsheries.104 A Mediterranean rainbow wrasse swimming over a seagrass bed in the Mediterranean Sea off Turkey. crustaceans.103 In many cases. w o r l d w a t c h . turtles.96 In Phang Nga province in Thailand.
though in some cases environmental conditions have also contributed. and.) Areas with the highest shares of overexploited or depleted stocks include the southeast and northeast Atlantic. the everincreasing demand for seafood has had powerful implications for marine species and ocean ecosystems. ﬁshers worldwide harvested nearly 158 million tons of ﬁsh in 2005. a sevenfold increase over 1950. and other products. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 13 . or aquaculture. Marine capture accounted for about 60 percent of the total.1 As near-shore ﬁsh stocks have declined. ﬁshery “collapse”—a sustained period of very low catches following a period of high catches—occurred in 366 out of 1. Figure 1. for tuna and tuna-like species. overexploited. southeast Paciﬁc. Marine Capture and Aquaculture. freezer trawlers. overﬁshing has been the primary cause for the declines. areas of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. at least 76 percent of stocks were considered either fully exploited.3 (See Figure 1.7 Catch records reveal that between 1950 and 2000. with the rest going to ﬁshmeal.4 The growth in the global ﬁsh catch has led to declines in the status of many marine ﬁsh stocks. 1950–2005 200 200 Source: FAO Source: FAO 150 150 Million Tons Million Tons 100 100 Aquaculture Aquaculture 50 50 Marine Capture Marine Capture 0 1950 0 1950 1960 1960 1970 1970 1980 1980 1990 1990 2000 2000 Figure 2. and other advanced technologies has led to a massive increase in global ﬁshing effort. 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.6 In most cases.Dangers of Fishery Depletions O ver the past century. ﬁsh oil. Global Fish Harvest.2 According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). ﬁshers have extended their range from the continental shelves to more distant. The adoption of more powerful boats. or depleted. accounted for the remainder. In 2005. deepwater habitats. w o r l d w a t c h . and ﬁsh farming.) About three quarters of ﬁsh production is for direct human consumption.5 (See Figure 2. acoustic ﬁsh ﬁnders.519 ﬁsheries. Status of World Fish Stocks.
shorter-lived ﬁsh that are lower down the web.18 Near Newfoundland. were the most vulnerable. the time to recovery may be considerably longer than was previously thought. the amount of predatory ﬁsh—including cod. herring. the practice of ﬁshing down the food web will reduce the number and length of pathways that link ﬁshes with other organisms. open-ocean ﬁsh. © Greenpeace/Jeremy SuttonHibbert removing the larger. selectively removing the larger.13 Another study from 2005 found that the abundance of large. by switching prey if their main food source declines in abundance due to climatic and other changes.11 The ﬁshery remains closed and there is little sign of recovery of offshore cod in the area. such as tuna. causing a loss of at least 20. An assessment of 90 ﬁsh stocks that had suffered prolonged declines showed that even 15 years after the reductions. resulting in a simpliﬁed web. In 2003. Research indicates that “ﬁshing down the marine food web” is happening on a global scale. Perhaps the best-known collapse involved the Atlantic cod ﬁshery off Newfoundland.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. In addition.000 jobs and severely damaging Newfoundland’s economy.12 Losses of predatory ﬁsh may be a good indicator of changes in the oceans overall.8 Smaller ﬁsheries and stocks. predatory.10 A moratorium imposed in 1992 closed the ﬁshery to commercial ﬂeets.21 From a marine diversity perspective.16 Aggregated globally. A less-diverse food web may make it harder for predators to compensate for environmental ﬂuctuations—for instance. and marlin. this causes massive collateral damage to corals and other features that offer protection and habitat for many creatures.23 As ﬁshers drag heavy nets and other gear across the sea ﬂoor. rays.Dangers of Fishery Depletions or nearly one in four.9 The decline began in the 1960s. dogﬁsh. Although ﬁshery collapses may be reversible. had declined by an estimated 90 percent since 1952. the average size of ﬁsh caught also declined by a meter. and skates. an analysis of 31 species in the north Atlantic revealed that over the past 50 years. mackerel. which tend to mature early in life and are caught using more selective ﬁshing techniques.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. swordﬁsh. The practice of bottom trawling has been likened to forest clearcutting. o r g 14 .20 The direct impact is a loss in abundance of the target species. sea cucumbers. and stocks ﬁnally collapsed in 1991. as the average trophic level dropped sharply between 1957 and 2000. white abalone. as well as bottom-dwelling species. on the Greek island of Kefalonia in the Mediterranean Sea. longer-lived predatory ﬁsh and are subsequently targeting smaller. as occurred with Atlantic cod. there has been a measurable decline in the mean “trophic level” of ﬁsheries catches—the position a species holds within the food web. many bottom-dwelling ﬁsh showed little if any recovery—particularly those species typically caught using highly destructive trawling methods.19 The ecological impacts of overﬁshing predatory ﬁsh are bound to be widespread and possibly difﬁcult to reverse.14 (Tuna and billﬁsh showed a loss in species diversity of 10 to 50 percent in all oceans. and salmon— had declined by approximately two thirds. faster-growing ﬁsh could alter the genetic diversity of a population and hence its survival capabilities.15) Other marine species that have undergone large-scale declines due to ﬁshing pressure include many sharks.22 Greater recovery was only evident in species like herring and sprat. w o r l d w a t c h . and deep-sea ﬁsh such as the roundnose grenadier and spiny eel.
more than a third of the ﬁsh used to make ﬁshmeal worldwide goes into producing feeds for aquaculture.28 In another study in the Mediterranean. Estonia. photographs show giant trawl scars up to four kilometers long. Consequently. which have a high age at maturity and are slow to reproduce.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.27 Bycatch— the incidental catch of non-target species— from bottom-trawling ﬁsheries is also high. skates and rays. or ﬁsh in freshwater or marine environments— has been practiced for up to 4.31 Industrial ﬁshing.30 Meanwhile. Fledgling success of chicks was less than 50 percent in all but three seasons. In 2001. Norway. Lithuania.36 It is now the fastest-growing animal-food production sector in the world. or the targeting of wild ﬁsh for conversion into ﬁshmeal or ﬁsh oil.000 years.35 What was once a lowinput method of maintaining animals for food. providing over 40 percent of all ﬁsh consumed. and by exposing them to predators. 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 the population has struggled to recover. Since its beginnings in the 1950s. For example. shellﬁsh. and Spain. © Greenpeace/Alex Hofford 15 . and capelin w w w. But over the past three decades. or recreation has developed into an intensive. and marine mammals. o r g stocks in the Barents Sea in the 1980s.Dangers of Fishery Depletions New Zealand. an estimated 90–99 percent of Oculina reef habitat has been reduced to rubble. industrial ﬁshing has been linked to the decline and collapse of several populations of small open-ocean ﬁsh. have disappeared from large areas due to intensive bottom-trawl ﬁsheries. discards accounted for one third of the catch by weight. management of these stocks has been particularly poor. with little attention to the impacts of heavy trawling gear on habitat. 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. w o r l d w a t c h . Stocks of the tuna are destined to be critically low within three years if fishing of the species continues unabated. including some in areas where 4. Iceland. Japan. New Zealand.32 Industrially ﬁshed species are low in marine food webs and are therefore important food resources for many predatory ﬁsh. Off Atlantic Florida. When stocks were at their lowest between 1969 and 1987.26 Bottom trawling kills seabed lifeforms by crushing them. is another growing activity that is likely unsustainable. overﬁshing induced the collapse of the Norwegian springspawning herring stock in the late 1960s. including mackerel and herring stocks in the North Sea and anchovy off the coast of Peru in the 1970s.500-year-old reefs exist. and in most years completely failed. In the North Sea. high-input industry. it has undergone a rapid expansion.33 Currently. just 11 countries were responsible for 95 percent of the reported highseas bottom-trawl catch: Denmark/Faroe Islands. seabirds. this severely affected the breeding success of Atlantic pufﬁns in the Norwegian Sea due to a reduction in food supply. Russia. decoration. bottom-trawling catches comprised 115 species that were kept for the market and 309 that were discarded. particularly as ocean ﬁsh stocks have declined.29 On average. crustaceans. Although many deep-sea ﬁsheries lie within the control of coastal nations. Portugal. loss of these stocks may have adverse impacts on these predators. Latvia.34 Aquaculture—the farming of seaweed.25 In regions off Norway and the United Kingdom. by burying them under sediment. Hawaii.
50 Efﬂuent discharges from shrimp ponds into estuaries can threaten ﬁsh communities and cause changes in plankton community structure.40 For tuna caught and fattened in ranches. In some cases—as with natural shrimp stocks—this has led to overexploitation.51 In China. the weight of ﬁshmeal inputs (i. 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.54 • Escape of Non-Native Species.41 And to meet its feed demands. leading to excessive plant growth and oxygen depletion. for example.47 In 1991. Aquaculture for tropical shrimp and ﬁsh has led to the destruction of thousands of hectares of mangroves and coastal wetlands.52 • Chemical Contamination. when wastewaters are released.48 In Thailand. which led to the development of resistant bacteria strains that caused disease in the shrimp. w o r l d w a t c h . marine shrimp.38 This is because in some intensive aquaculture systems.60 Infectious salmon anemia and sea lice are both widespread problems in European salmon farming w w w.58 And the Japanese Paciﬁc oyster. Serious epidemics of two diseases in Atlantic salmon have been linked to movements of ﬁsh for aquaculture and re-stocking. that the Chilean jack mackerel was overﬁshed. In India and Bangladesh.55 Interbreeding may alter the genetic make-up of a wild population and compromise its resilience to natural environmental change. Marine aquaculture often relies on the capture of wild juvenile ﬁsh or shellﬁsh to supply stock. at higher levels the added nutrients from aquaculture are more likely to reduce species numbers. and trout requires between 2.5 to 5 times as much ﬁshmeal (by weight) as output of ﬁsh. as a result. these inputs can contaminate the nearby environment.43 A study of six industrially ﬁshed species used for aquaculture feed found that most of these ﬁsheries did not meet requirements of sustainability.42 As it expands. o r g .59 • Introduction of Diseases. 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. and capelin and sandeel needed to be managed using a precautionary approach. has now become established on almost all northern hemisphere coasts. ground-up wild ﬁsh) is greater than the weight of farmed ﬁsh produced. the weight of wild ﬁsh used in production is about 20 times the weight of tuna produced.39 Producing carnivorous ﬁsh such as marine ﬁnﬁsh. 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.53 One of the factors that led to the collapse of the Thai shrimp farming industry in 1988 was the indiscriminate use of antibiotics. mainly for shrimp and milkﬁsh.46 • Habitat Loss. the catch limit on horse mackerel was too high to sustain stocks. seaweed species being farmed in Hawaii escaped and spread across coral reefs.. or predate on native populations.56 In 1973. widely used in aquaculture.57 In southern Chile. Non-native aquaculture species can spread disease to. Other threats that aquaculture poses to wild ﬁsh populations and marine ecosystems include: • Depletion of Wild Stocks for Seed. the farming of certain types of marine ﬁsh and shrimp results in a net loss.49 • Efﬂuent Discharge.e.44 It concluded. the industry relies heavily on ﬁshmeal imports from South America. Despite occasional beneﬁts to the diversity of bottom-dwelling species from modest nutrient efﬂuent ﬂows. salmon and trout escapees may be competing with native southern hake and mackerel.45 The practice also results in the capture of juveniles of other species that are discarded and die. compete with. up to 160 other shrimp and fish fry are discarded for every tiger shrimp collected. salmon. the aquaculture industry cannot rely indeﬁnitely on ﬁnite stocks of wildcaught ﬁsh. the harvest of blue whiting was unsustainable.Dangers of Fishery Depletions While aquaculture as a whole adds to the world’s ﬁsh supply. Chemicals and drugs are often added to aquaculture cages and ponds to control pathogens. eel. signiﬁcant pollution has been reported in coastal creeks adjacent to intensive shrimp ponds. rather than using hatcheries to rear them.
and sea turtles as well as sharks continue to drown in shrimp nets. w o r l d w a t c h . w w w. including some 100. Researchers estimate the annual bycatch of whales.000 albatrosses as well as petrels. it may take decades to see the long-term effects of implementation.65 Animals are attracted to the ﬁshers’ discards and baits. longlining is responsible for the deaths of at least 61 different species of seabirds.S.62 Many ﬁshing practices can have serious effects not just on ﬁsh. farms. shearwaters. non-target species. 25 of which are listed as critically endangered. substantial numbers of seabirds.68 While some nations have introduced measures to reduce the number of birds caught.69 Longlining has also resulted in the incidental take of sea turtles. and sea turtles become entangled or hooked accidentally by ﬁshing gear. but because sea turtles mature slowly.000 leatherbacks in 2000 alone. and porpoises at over 300. sunglint reveals the density of aquaculture empoundments on the coast of Liaoning Province.gov/) 17 . particularly in the Gulf of Mexico. and many die as a result.S. and then discarded.000 seabirds a year. National Marine Fisheries Service worked with the industry to develop the turtle excluder device (TED).” the United Nations. Longline ﬁshing.Dangers of Fishery Depletions and have also affected U. illustrating the high risk of unmitigated longlining to species survival. 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. and are pulled underwater by the weight of the line and drown.67 In total.75 Fishery operations can also kill or seriously injure marine mammals that are “captured. in December 1992.000 and put seals and sea lions in a similar range. and Orissa on the east coast of India. including the highly endangered vaquita porpoise in the Gulf of California and Hector’s dolphin off New Zealand. northern Australia.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.64 Yet the problems continue today with illegally placed driftnets and the use of a variety of other net types.S. marine mammals.73 TEDS were required to be ﬁtted into shrimp trawl nets on U. a metal grid ﬁtted at the top or bottom of a trawl net from which large animals like turtles and sharks can escape.74 Moreover. ﬁsheries O C E A N S I N P E R I L In a photo taken from the International Space Station. endangered. ingest the hooks. Each year.000 loggerheads and 5.” drowned. NASA-Johnson Space Center (http://eol. vessels by 1991. dolphins. but on other. 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.nasa. in 2002. and fulmars. Image Science and Analysis Laboratory. most longline ﬂeets still do not employ effective mitigation methods. there is a danger they could spread to wild salmon.70 Populations of these two species in the Paciﬁc have declined by 80 to 95 percent in the past 20 years.76 For several populations.5 kilometers—a type of gear that had been killing large numbers of marine creatures— on the high seas. or vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). not all ﬁshers comply with the law in the Gulf of Mexico.jsc.72 As a consequence. including an estimated 200.66 Longline ﬁshing ﬂeets kill an estimated 300. the U.000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles drowned each year in the southeastern United States and Gulf of Mexico ﬁsheries alone. an estimated 50.71 In the 1980s. where it has caused losses in Texas shrimp farms and may also be killing wild crustaceans.000 loggerheads and 50.63 To prevent some of this “bycatch. northeast China.
” The Togo-flagged vessel is fishing for cod without a quota in the international section of the Barents known as the “loophole. and porpoises are likely to be severely reduced or lost in the next few decades if nothing is done to address incidental capture.78 Since 1986.87 As in the legal ﬁshing realm.86 Fishers also launder stolen ﬁsh by “transhipping” their catch to reefers at sea rather than ofﬂoading them directly in ports.80 A signiﬁcant—and growing—contributor to both marine bycatch and ﬁsheries depletions is large-scale “illegal. 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.83 * Of this. of which only some 350 animals remain. at least six due to entanglement.90 *All dollar amounts are expressed in U. bearing a banner that reads “Stop Fish Piracy. as well as 61 conﬁrmed cases of entanglement. o r g .89 IUU ﬁshing jeopardizes the livelihoods of local ﬁshing communities. dolphins.” © Greenpeace/Dick Gillberg pose the single greatest threat to their continued survival. dollars unless indicated otherwise. Greenpeace activists board the factory trawler Murtosa in the Barents Sea off Norway in 2005.79 Several populations of whales.25 billion originates from exploitation of the high seas and the rest from the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of coastal states.82 It has been estimated that IUU ﬁshing accounts for up to 20 percent of the global catch and is worth $4–9 billion a year. IUU ﬁshing is a growing threat to marine diversity and a serious obstacle to achieving sustainable ﬁsheries.Dangers of Fishery Depletions unreported” (IUU) ﬁshing. and 18 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. some $1. control. As industrialized countries see their own ﬁsh stocks decrease and impose stricter controls in their waters.000 seabirds annually. and surveillance.S. and results in signiﬁcant economic losses.85 IUU ﬁshers frequently operate without a license and ﬂy “ﬂags of convenience” to hide their true origins. 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. threatens the food security of coastal countries. there have been 50 reported deaths of the whales. illegal longline ﬁshing for the Patagonian toothﬁsh is estimated to kill up to 145. the Paciﬁc. and the Mediterranean. w o r l d w a t c h .77 Bycatch also contributes to the poor conservation status of the North Atlantic right whale.88 In the case of bycatch.84 IUU ﬁshing results in large part from overcapacity in the world’s ﬁshing ﬂeets. which has led to increased competition. unregulated. IUU ﬁshers “steal” ﬁsh from the largely unregulated high seas as well as from regulated areas that have little capacity for monitoring.81 Operating outside of ﬁsheries management and conservation rules. ﬁshers ﬁnd ways to evade the constraints. including moving their activities to areas (often in developing countries) where effective control is absent. Affected regions include the Southern Ocean as well as coastal areas of West Africa.
The impacts on corals range from relatively mild (in the case of seasonal bleaching) to largescale mortality. levels rose by only 20 ppm.Changing Climate. by comparison.9 Six major cycles of mass coral bleaching. and in some cases global. extinction. Universidad Nacional de Colombia/Marine Photobank w w w. with a pattern of increasing frequency and intensity. Islas del Rosario. with wide-ranging effects on the Earth’s climate systems.000 years preceding industrialization. Honduras. in the 8. affecting hundreds or thousands of kilometers of reefs. Sven Zea. w o r l d w a t c h . but it can reduce the reproductive capacity and growth of corals.1 About two-thirds of human-caused CO2 emissions is related to the burning of fossil fuels. causing the coral to turn a brilliant white. Diploria strigosa.5 Climate change could reduce the abundance of many marine species and increase the likelihood of local. so even a small degree of warming could have a negative impact on their physiological functioning and survival.7 Reef-building corals have a symbiotic relationship with algae that live within them and supply energy from photosynthesis. and the remaining one-third is from deforestation and other land-use changes.3 Many marine organisms already live at temperatures close to their thermal tolerances. The result has been an increase in atmospheric temperatures. Changing Seas H uman-induced climate change is predicted to have profound impacts on the world’s oceans and on marine life. The incidence and prevalence of the disease can increase when corals are stressed by above-normal temperatures. o r g 19 . have occurred over the past 20 years. and even result in death. the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased from an estimated 280 parts per million (ppm) to more than 379 ppm. increase their susceptibility to disease. 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.8 The bleaching is often temporary. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.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.10 Since 1995.11 Mortality near 100 percent was observed in Indonesian and eastern Paciﬁc reefs following a bleaching event in 1982–83. Small increases of even 1 °C above the summer mean maximum can cause the partial or total loss of these algae and their pigments.6 Rising sea temperature is thought to be the primary cause of the many and widespread episodes of coral “bleaching” worldwide since 1979.4 Modeling data for sockeye salmon suggest that elevated water temperature could impair ﬁsh growth and increase mortality. most reefs worldwide have been affected by mass bleaching.
wherein more-resilient individuals within a population survive and increase in numbers. Australia.14 In some cases. and ﬁsh that thrive at high temperatures. but not to earlier spring phytoplankton blooms.22 Unfortunately.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. 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. the larvae are now suffering from increased predation by shrimp whose peak abundance time has also shifted. Changes have also been observed in marine plankton abundance and community structure in recent decades.12 The extent of coral mortality appears to increase with the intensity of the bleaching event. even slight changes could shift their geographical distribution and affect their physiological performance. 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. and increasing sea temperature is likely to affect their distribution as well as their abundance.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. which in turn is determined by the size and duration of the sea-temperature increase. and adaptation. o r g . providing food for ﬁsh in their larval and adult stages. whereby their physiology changes so they are more tolerant of higher temperatures. 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. In the polar regions.Changing Climate. but no damage in cooler areas.19 It is possible that more thermally tolerant species will become more dominant. Changing Seas western Indian Ocean after a 1997–98 event.17 Corals could cope with the rising temperatures in at least two possible ways: acclimatization. As the western Mediterranean Sea has warmed over the last 20 to 30 years.26 The impacts of sea temperature rise will likely be complex and unpredictable.21 The loss of reefs would also affect the estimated tens of millions of people who rely on reefs for daily sustenance.27 This has caused a temporal mismatch between the mollusk larvae and their food supply.25 A northward shift in the distribution of some North Sea ﬁsh also occurred in response to rising sea temperatures between 1977 and 2001. © Greenpeace/Roger Grace bleaching.24 Research on a Californian gastropod and a Caribbean coral has shown that both have shifted poleward due to warming. where ﬁsh have narrow limits of temperature tolerance. For example.28 Phytoplankton (small plants) and zooplankton (small animals) lie at the base of the marine food web. they may fail to reproduce. w o r l d w a t c h .23 Many marine ﬁsh seek preferred temperatures. echinoderms. the thermal thresholds of corals in most areas of the tropics and subtropics could be exceeded by 2030 to 2050. Furthermore. reef bleaching on a worldwide scale could become an annual or biannual event by this period. there have been increases in the abundance of certain algae.13 In 2001–02.16 Unless there is a change in these thermal tolerances.15 As sea temperatures continue to rise. leading to a decrease in reef diversity. extensive bleaching on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef caused signiﬁcant coral mortality in the hottest patches. the global prognosis for reefs is unlikely to change unless there is an accelerated effort to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
is responsible for transporting a huge amount of tropical heat to the north Atlantic via the Gulf Stream. and polar bears. sea level would continue to rise from thermal expansion. There is little evidence. this could result in the loss of as much as 22 percent of the world’s coastal wetlands. this heat is released to eastward-moving air masses. it has been suggested that heavily overﬁshed stocks may be more sensitive to climate variability due to a loss in biological diversity.32 Also of concern to marine biodiversity is sea-level rise. Between 1961 and 2003.40 Rapid sea-level rise could also effectively “drown “ coral reefs by reducing penetration of the light required for coral-dwelling algae to photosynthesize. losses from the Greenland Ice Sheet.50 (See Sidebar 1.48 By this time. 22. exacerbating existing declines caused by overﬁshing. including ﬁsh.41 In addition to raising sea levels. are now more than double previous estimates.) As the warming moves northward.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.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.47 The mean annual surface temperature in the region is predicted to increase another 4–7 °C by the end of the century.37 By the 2080s. caused by the expansion of sea water as it warms and by the melting of landbased ice. which could have severe impacts on commercial ﬁsheries. warming the climate of northern Europe.30 On the other hand.42 The so-called Great Ocean Conveyor Belt.35 Even if greenhouse gas concentrations were stabilized immediately. that worldwide stock declines are linked in any major way to climate change. whales. there is abundant evidence that overﬁshing has resulted in signiﬁcant declines in many ﬁsh species. affecting the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. reducing this warming effect. the possibility of an abrupt change in ocean circulation and impact on climate is very real. the Arctic Ocean is expected to be predominantly ice-free in summer. and a 10–15 percent decrease in the extent of sea-ice coverage in the spring and summer since the 1950s. Changing Seas young cod.8 millimeters a year on average. or more than 0. researchers have reported a 40percent reduction in the thickness of sea ice between 1958 and the 1990s. resulting in impaired resilience.33 It is projected to keep rising over the next several decades.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. and the endangered Laysan ﬁnch. birds. the global sea level has risen by about 1. affecting wildlife that depends on these habitats. The loss in Arctic biodiO C E A N S I N P E R I L 21 . p.46 In the Arctic. however. driven primarily by temperature and salinity differences. seals. the poles have seen particularly rapid warming. Importantly.49 This degree of melting will likely have negative consequences within the next few decades for Arctic animals that depend on the ice.5 millimeters per year. and to intrusion of seawater into estuaries and freshwater aquifers. particularly toward the edge of a species’ range. and ice sheets would continue to react to climate change. with resulting impacts on marine habitats and biodiversity.34 Presently. w o r l d w a t c h . Climate variability is known to affect the replenishment of stocks with juvenile ﬁsh.39 Another study predicted signiﬁcant loss of terrestrial habitat on two low-lying Hawaiian islands.44 While the likelihood of this is unknown. though the amount will depend largely on the degree of melting at the polar ice caps.29 The warmer environment may also hamper the reproductive success of cod. During the wintertime. indigenous hunting.36 Sea-level rise could lead to increased erosion and ﬂooding of coastal areas. it is possible that climate change could affect the global circulation of ocean water. the threatened Hawaiian green sea turtle. 45 Of all the Earth’s regions. thinning of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be nearly balanced by thickening of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. o r g sites for four marine turtle species. and ecosystem function. some species that are presently abundant will be restricted in their range.Changing Climate.
the oceans have absorbed about half of the human-caused CO2 emissions. and some flatfish moving northward and possibly increasing in abundance.54 The warming ocean waters. Changing Seas Sidebar 1. reduction of sea ice. lowering the pH of the ocean by about 0. Sea ice must be sufficiently stable to rear pups. In Hudson Bay. Research suggests there has been an 80 percent decline in the gull’s nesting numbers. Canada. 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. These include corals and echinoderms. Birds. including ringed. Arctic seabirds are likely to be affected mostly by changes in their prey. The rising carbon content of the atmosphere is not just contributing to the warming of the oceans. Over the past 200 years. Other species including capelin. and in the Gulf of St. and planktonic organisms.58 By 2100. The distribution of Arctic fish will most likely change. and a concurrent 1 °C rise in summer sea-surface temperatures. Other Arctic seals that depend on sea ice are at similar risk. as their habitat too disappears. and reproductive processes and affect the growth and survival of smaller organisms on which fish prey. Rising sea temperatures may cause changes in metabolic. it is estimated that the predicted rise in atmospheric CO2 will cause a further drop in ocean pH of 0. 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. These structures will become more difﬁcult to produce and maintain and may ultimately start to w w w. Polar Bears. Seals. polar cod. Ice-living seals depend on sea ice as a birthing. ringed seals.Changing Climate. but the bears depend heavily on sea ice as their habitat and feeding ground. and average retreat rates are accelerating. Females with lower fat stores are likely to produce fewer cubs and have smaller cubs with lower survival rates. molting. 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. Lawrence. Effects of Climate Change on Arctic Marine Wildlife Fish. researchers found that a mere 1 °C rise in summer sea temperatures impaired the biological functioning of three species of mollusk.52 Warmer temperatures appear to have led to retreats of ﬁve Peninsular ice shelves over the last century. Source: See Endnote 50 for this section. leading to possible extinction. o r g . records for the western Antarctic Peninsula indicate a rapid rise in atmospheric temperature of nearly 3 °C since 1951. Earlier break-up of the ice in spring and later freeze-up in autumn would mean a shorter feeding period.51 In the southern polar region. bearded. Climate change and sea-ice retreat will likely bring declines in polar bear numbers. with cod. which is closely associated with sea ice.55 These changes also appear to be having a negative impact on numbers of Antarctic krill. pests. for example lost the ability to swim. together with certain crustaceans. and spotted seals. break-up is now occurring about 2. and Greenland halibut are likely to have a restricted range and decline in abundance. and parasites.56 (See Sidebar 2. In a 2004 study. Continuance of current and projected trends will have dire consequences for the harp and hooded seals in the region.59 Ocean acidiﬁcation could have a major impact on many marine organisms that build shells and skeletal structures out of calcium carbonate. and increased glacial melting (with its subsequent effects on ocean salinity) could all signiﬁcantly affect life in the Antarctic. w o r l d w a t c h . and polar bears have been coming ashore in poorer condition and birth rates have declined. including the ivory gull.000plus known bottom-dwelling species would be at risk of decline from a 1–2 °C increase in summer sea temperatures. versity will likely also result in increased susceptibility to disease. pollock. and some species subsist on ice-associated prey. walleye.5 weeks earlier than it did 30 years ago. growth. Ice loss could also reduce the availability of the bear’s main prey. but is also making them more acidic. herring.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.5— a reduction well outside the range of natural variation and one that has probably not been experienced for hundreds of thousands of years.57 One scallop species.) Many bottom-dwelling Antarctic species are particularly sensitive to temperature variation. In the Canadian Arctic. The most sensitive species to climate change are potentially those with narrow food or habitat requirements. including the collapse of the Prince Gustav and parts of the Larsen ice shelves in 1995. The study concluded that some populations of Antarctica’s 4. possibly due to an altered wintering habitat. and resting platform. mollusks. resulting in reduced fat stores. a key species in the Southern Ocean food web and an important food source for the penguins.1 unit. Most female polar bears build their dens on land.
Source: See Endnote 56 for this section. The change was linked to increased glacial meltwater run-off. and whales are especially susceptible to krill shortages. The decline was found to correlate with the extent and duration of sea ice the previous winter. Krill are also believed to favor cold water. krill densities decreased by an estimated 80 percent between 1976 and 2003.61 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. In addition. Courtesy Australian Antarctic Division grasses and mangroves. and the contribution (by weight) of krill in the diets of macaroni penguins began to decline significantly. Without signiﬁcant action to do this.60 Acidiﬁcation is likely to have major ramiﬁcations for the biodiversity and functioning of coral reefs and associated ecosystems. a study of plankton community structure between 1990 and 1996 at Palmer Station. Impact of Climate Change on Antarctic Krill Since the mid-1980s. crabeater. w w w. leading to decreased reproductive potential. Changes in Antarctic krill could have profound implications for the Southern Ocean food web. decreasing trends in birth weight of Antarctic fur seals and macaroni penguins in the early 1990s were reported. since calcium carbonate tends to dissolve under acidic conditions.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. there could be no place in the future oceans for many of the species and ecosystems we know today. and increased susceptibility to disease. slower growth. Catch of Antarctic krill from an Australian research expedition in 2003. and rising sea temperatures in one of their key spawning and nursery areas could affect populations as well. w o r l d w a t c h . Changing Seas disintegrate. Penguins.Changing Climate. which reduced the surface water salinity. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 23 . since the ice provides winter food from ice algae and is needed for survival and growth of krill larvae. The respiratory processes of ﬁsh and invertebrates could be impaired and body tissues could become acidiﬁed. including seaSidebar 2. revealed a shift in the organisms comprising the plankton to communities less-effectively grazed by the krill. significantly smaller populations of Antarctic krill have been observed in the Antarctic Peninsula region. and fur seals would also likely be affected by reduced krill abundance. Antarctic krill also depend on summer phytoplankton blooms as a food source. albatross. It could also affect non-calcifying marine organisms. However. Lower krill numbers in the early 1990s may have contributed to decreasing populations of Adélie and chinstrap penguins observed since 1990. seals. In the productive southwest Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. Baleen whales. Antarctica.
3 But others have received relatively little attention despite their known and potential effects on marine organisms. They have been found in coastal areas. long-lived. and undermine ecosystem integrity. paints. in their blubber were statistically linked to levels of thyroid hormones in their blood. and even in remote Arctic regions. and the subw w w.1 nanograms per gram (ng/g) lipid to 53 ng/g lipid. several of the most worrisome effects may be on the thyroid and estrogen hormone systems.4 Between 1990 and 2000. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). possibly reﬂecting greater usage of the compounds in that region. in accordance with the hypothesis that PBDEs are endocrine disruptors. indicating very pervasive contamination of the marine environment. directly kill organisms. radioactive substances.14 Higher levels were apparent in the northern hemisphere. nutrients.12 Other studies have demonstrated that some BFRs are toxic to nervous and immune systems and can alter liver function.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. global usage of the chemicals more than doubled from 145. meaning that they build up in the tissues of ﬁsh and other animals.1 In recent years.10 While relatively little is known about the toxic effects of BFRs in wildlife and humans. w o r l d w a t c h .11 A study on wild grey seal pups reported that levels of one category of BFRs. 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. in the deep oceans.8 Research from seals and pilot whales indicates that once absorbed.Polluting the Marine Environment A n ongoing threat to marine life is the release of polluting substances into the oceans. Some studies have indicated a signiﬁcant presence of BFRs in seabirds.000 tons. One example is the brominated ﬂame retardants (BFRs).6 BFRs have been shown to contaminate marine wildlife all over the world. Various POPs have become subject to international control under the provisions of the Stockholm Convention agreed to in 2001. resins. compounds added to plastics.2 Synthetic chemicals known collectively as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are toxic. electronics. and bioaccumulative. and other products to increase their ﬁre resistance.5 Asia accounts for more than half of the market demand for the substances. followed by the Americas and Europe. and marine debris. oil.000 tons to 310. there has been rising concern about the effects of mercury. textiles. and other chemicals on marine species. These substances can contaminate the marine environment.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. They can also travel long distances from their point of origin.9 There is also evidence that some of these substances increase in concentration through marine food chains. the chemicals may be passed from mother to young across the placenta as well as through lactational transfer. including chemicals. o r g 24 .
due to the longdistance transport of radionuclides on ocean currents.Polluting the Marine Environment stances were also present in three sperm whales found stranded on the coast of the Netherlands. Other sources include operational discharges from nuclear power facilities. indicating that the bears may metabolize the compound and that the levels typically measured may in fact underestimate their total exposure. United Kingdom.17 Some studies show an increasing trend of PBDE levels in marine wildlife over time. They reach coastal waters from a variety of sources. although discharges from Sellaﬁeld peaked in the early 1980s. sewage discharges.25 Plutonium was found in seaweed collected from the Irish coastline between 1986 and 1996. are also important marine pollutants. the remobilization of contaminated sediments from the seabed acts as a continued source of the radionuclides to waters above. nuclear reprocessing plants.15 Because the whales feed in deep offshore waters.24 The levels of contamination in the mammals decreased with increasing distance from Sellaﬁeld. mainly in the form of nitrogen or phosphorous.18 Persistent organic pollutants are just one of the diverse array of pollutants that present widespread and long-term threats to marine ecosystems. though perhaps more localized. and can act as potent carcinogens and mutagens. 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. Another signiﬁcant. as well as in mussels and oysters on the northeast coast of Ireland between 1988 and 1997. while others indicate that levels have stabilized or even decreased in recent years. the dumping of radioactive waste at sea. 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.20 In 1998.21 The “footprint” of contamination stretches from the Irish Sea to Arctic waters. this implies that the compounds have even contaminated deep-water oceanic food webs. The increase in microbe numbers may cause oxygen to be used up in these areas. substances that have no natural counterparts.22 Despite some removal due to the natural processes of ocean circulation. have extremely long half-lives. PBDEs were also detectable in polar bears from different regions of the Arctic. has been the largest single source of artiﬁcial radionuclides to the oceans due to fallout. Presently. historically.26 Plant nutrients.16 One study showed a possible PDBE breakdown product. resulting in marked changes in species composition. and. o r g tions in tissue samples of seals and porpoises along the UK coast at levels 300 times greater than in seawater. and via atmospheric pollution from the burning of fossil fuels.23 One study detected radiocesium concentraw w w. including agricultural fertilizer run-off. Sellafield.19 Nuclear weapons testing.27 Excess nutrient pollution in coastal waters can cause increased numbers of phytoplankton and zooplankton. © Greenpeace/Nick Cobbing 25 . the presence of the radionuclide in sediment continues to act as a source to overlying waters. For plutonium. threat is that posed by artiﬁcial radionuclides. they are consumed by microbes either deeper in the water or at the seabed. possibly as a result of new controls on the substances in some countries. w o r l d w a t c h . As these organisms die and sink. predominantly between 1954 and 1962. the most prominent sources of radioactive pollution to the oceans are from nuclear reprocessing plants in the United Kingdom and France. indicating that the plant was the major source of this contamination.
43 (See Sidebar 3.31 The largest such zones (40. Oil-coated shorelines result in dead or moribund animals. in the Baltic and Black Seas.40 In the North Sea. Australia.39 For example. from 1990 to 1999. there were 513 spills from tankers and tank barges in U. but lessmobile sediment-dwelling animals that cannot escape may begin to die. the southern bight 26 O C E A N S I N P E R I L . and in many U. often in large numbers. and routine vessel and vehicle maintenance.42 Oil spills can have devastating impacts on the environment. o r g Crude oil spilled from the sunken tanker Prestige coats the beach of Barranin. continual exposure to w w w.28 Fish tend to vacate these areas as oxygen levels fall. China. lawful discharges of oil from offshore oil and gas installations accounted for the overwhelming bulk of oil inputs from this sector. coastal and estuarine areas. the northern Gulf of Mexico.S.) Seabirds and marine mammals are particularly badly affected: coating of feathers or fur can destroy their waterprooﬁng and insulating characteristics. the northwestern shelf of the Black Sea.29 The process of nutrient overload and subsequent oxygen loss has led to the formation of vast. coastal waters of at least 100 gallons (379 liters) in size.38 Municipal and industrial wastewater and atmospheric deposition may also be responsible for nutrient pollution in some places. and New Zealand.33 The increasing numbers of dead zones in coastal regions are associated with declines in biodiversity and.Polluting the Marine Environment of the North Sea. the amount of damage also depends on other factors including the type of oil spilled. the location of the spill.34 Severe bottom hypoxia linked to nutrient pollution was ﬁrst recorded around 1950 in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Smaller and less-frequently occurring dead zones occur in the northern Adriatic Sea. until recently. with a recent estimate of up to 200.000 square kilometers) are found in coastal areas of the Baltic Sea. as well as off South America.”30 The number of dead zones has risen every decade since the 1970s. offshore drilling operations.35 Accelerated growth of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone follows the exponential growth of fertilizer use beginning in the 1950s.S. © Greenpeace/Pedro Armestre ﬁsh and other marine animals. and. smaller spills occur every day from ships. oxygen-depleted areas known as “dead zones.37 Oil spills in the marine environment can be catastrophic for wildlife and have long-lasting impacts on ecosystem health as well. Japan. w o r l d w a t c h .000–84. Galicia. Animals may also be poisoned by oil ingestion as they try to clean themselves or if their prey is contaminated. Spain.32 Some of these zones are ﬂeeting whereas others persist for a large proportion of the year. there is clear evidence that excess use of fertilizers is associated with oxygen-depleted bottom water. In the long term. have led to the demise of some bottom ﬁsheries.36 In the Baltic. While large spills typically make the headlines because of their dramatic effects.41 While the size of a spill is important. leading to death from hypothermia. and weather conditions.
The spill also threatened spawning fish and sea turtles that nest on the coast. Atlantic puffins. Prestige. w o r l d w a t c h .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. When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in March 1989. some populations of sea otters had not recovered from the spill. marine debris has become a pervasive problem affecting all of the world’s oceans. contaminating at least 1. northern gannet. turtles. there is particular concern about the spill’s impact on vermetid (marine snail) reef communities.49 An estimated 80 percent of marine debris is from land-based sources. a debris convergence zone. including many seabirds. four major groups: tourism-related litter at the coast (including food and beverage packaging. razorbills. in the North Paciﬁc Gyre. Because Lebanese marine ecosystems have high biodiversity. an estimated 2. O C E A N S I N P E R I L 27 . around ﬁshing areas.50 The sources fall into w w w. seals.000 items per square kilometer. Source: See Endnote 43 for this section. clinging to sand.46 Studies have shown that marine debris is ubiquitous in the world’s oceans and on its shorelines. during which time the spill spread over some 150 kilometers of Lebanon’s coastline. and stone. with the rest coming from marine activities. Cleanup has been hampered by slow decisions on the release of funds by the government. Alaska. In Galicia. On the seaﬂoor. and in oceanic convergence zones.990 kilometers of pristine shoreline. Israeli military strikes hit oil storage tanks at Jiyeh power station on the Lebanese coast. spilling some 200 tons of oil initially but leaving an additional 1. the Caribbean. Large amounts are also found in shipping lanes. 1989. and European shags—was estimated at between 115.44 A highly visible form of marine pollution is that caused by marine debris.000 tons of oil along coastlines in northern Spain and southwestern France. and as recently as 2003 in some lower intertidal zones. Much of the spilled oil emulsified and solidified along the shore. and locations in Indonesia. releasing an estimated 63. and the total number of affected birds—including common guillemots. Oil contamination was still evident on Alaskan coastlines 10 to 12 years after the spill. 2002. Lebanon. At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris. rock. resulting in the release of an estimated 10. the oil tanker Prestige sank 210 kilometers off the coast of Spain. Far from being just a few pieces of rubbish scattered along beaches. it spilled an estimated 42. Recent Major Oil Spills and Their Effects Exxon Valdez. and environmentalists have called on the Philippine government to hold Petron and its partners accountable for damages to the environment and people’s livelihoods. The spill killed an estimated 250.000. o r g Sidebar 3. On July 14 and 15. Cleanup operations were delayed for five weeks due to the war. though the nearby seabed was also smothered. Philippines. An impact assessment is being undertaken to assess damage to marine sanctuaries and coastal ecosystems.000 oiled birds were collected after the spill.48 In surveys of world shorelines. destroyed coral reefs. extrapolation of the data suggests that maximum levels could reach nearly 1 million items per square kilometer. the highest quantity recorded was 101.47 Floating “micro” debris of a much smaller size occurs at high levels even well offshore.45 It is the cause of injury and death to numerous marine animals.000 and 230. 2006.000 to 13.000 hectares of marine reserve. On November 13. A study of mussels from the Bay of Biscay in 2003 indicated that exposure to toxic chemicals was still causing metabolic disturbances. either because they become entangled in it or because they mistake it for prey and eat it. In Europe. As late as 2000. debris has been studied in several locations in European waters as well as in the United States. Indonesia (more than 4 items per square meter). and in Indonesia roughly 690. A tanker chartered by Petron Corporation sank in rough seas off the Philippines on August 11. Spain 2002. Of marine mammals. the most affected beaches lost up to two thirds of their total species richness. whales. The spill covered some 320 kilometers of coastline in thick sludge. 2006.800 sea otters and at least 302 harbor seals were killed directly. and ﬁsh. July 2006. Initial impacts on marine wildlife included reports of thousands of fish and other species being found dead on shores daily.800 tons on board. sea lions.000 tons of heavy fuel oil into the Mediterranean Sea. August 2006.000 items per square kilometer. and to date Petron has not offered financial assistance in mitigation. 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). and badly damaged 1.000 tons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.000 birds almost immediately and had longer-term effects on abundance and distribution. with higher quantities found in the tropics and mid-latitudes than toward the poles. and both species showed several years of delayed recovery in the spill area. though higher amounts were reported in the English Channel (10 to more than 100 items per square kilometer) and Ambon Bay. More than 23. Studies report quantities of larger ﬂoating debris generally in the range of 0 to 10 items per square kilometer.
especially near the coast. As plastics weather in the ocean. pots. and wastes from ships and boats (including garbage that is accidentally or deliberately dumped overboard). Plastics and synthetic materials are the most common materials found. as small sea creatures ingest them and potentially concentrate any toxic chemicals present. and syringes washed from storm drains or sewer overﬂows). nets. and plastic beach toys). starvation (through reduced feeding efﬁciency). 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. This phenomenon. sewagerelated debris (including street litter. surrounded by garbage and other debris that has been washed up by the tide. strangulation.51 Even such tiny particles can cause harm to the marine environment. and seabirds by drowning. ﬁshing-related debris (including lines. and eventually into pieces the size of grains of sand. and bait box bands kill marine mammals. sea turtles. o r g .52 Derelict ﬁshing gear. A young boy plays with syringes on a beach in Lebanon. affecting conservation of ﬁsh stocks. © Greenpeace/Serji cigarettes. and strapping bands from bait boxes). suffocation. Plastic bags are the major debris item found on the seabed.” can result in the capture of large quantities of marine organisms. and these cause the 28 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. six-pack rings. condoms. These particles have been found in seabed sediments and suspended in seawater. w o r l d w a t c h . And discarded or lost ﬁshing nets and pots can continue to trap and catch ﬁsh even when they are no longer in use.Polluting the Marine Environment most problems for marine animals and birds. and injuries.53 Derelict ﬁshing gear also damages coral reefs when nets or lines get snagged by the reef and break it off. known as “ghost ﬁshing.54 Marine debris can also act as rafts.
temporary area closures. “national parks” of the sea. and limits on ﬁshing effort. w o r l d w a t c h . such as commercial ﬁshing and mining. in speciﬁc cases. precautionary. as well as to disposal activities.2 What is needed to ﬁll the present void in regulation is an integrated. © Greenpeace/Gavin Newman w w w.5 Currently.4 They are areas of the sea that are closed to all extractive uses. most ﬁsheries management has been based on consideration of single species rather that the whole ecosystem of which they are part.6 There is an urgent need. In other words. for a global network of fully protected reserves that also includes protection of the high seas. or areas beyond national jurisdiction. such as recreational boating.3 A Global Network of Marine Reserves From a conservation perspective. as well as the complex interactions between species that make up an ecosystem. and ecosystem approach to promote both the conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment. illegal ﬁshing. When limits are imposed. may be permitted up to certain levels.) As such. more than 4. 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. (Less-harmful uses.1 Moreover.7 This is necessary to safeguard against overﬁshing. This can be done most effectively by establishing fully protected marine reserves—effectively. almost all of which are small-scale and coastal. But ﬁsheries management has generally fallen far short of adequate protection for wider marine ecosystems. and. though many reserves contain core zones where no human activity is allowed at all. o r g 29 . the Philippines. these have tended to be in the form of catch quotas. small-scale.000 MPAs exist worldwide. 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. While governments have adopted a wide range of well-meaning oceans and ﬁsheries regulations. 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. many of these have been ineffective because they are either too weak or poorly enforced. passage of shipping. Marine reserves offer the highest level of environmental protection of all marine pro- tected areas (MPAs).Freedom for the Seas G iven the many threats to the world’s marine environments. fundamental changes need to be made in the way our oceans are managed. however. safeguarding ocean life means protecting not just a single species. non-destructive ﬁshing.
Freedom for the Seas ties in the deep sea and open ocean. and hydrothermal vents. ocean acidiﬁcation.8 In 2003. larvae.21 A well-designed global network of reserves could act as a series of stepping stones. only about 0.22 (Ultimately. support ﬁsheries management. For instance. however. the major target of hook-and-line ﬁsheries in the region.16 Marine reserves can also beneﬁt ﬁsheries in surrounding waters as a result of spillover of ﬁsh. and assure sufﬁcient ecological connectivity.15 Similarly. scientists have suggested that connected corridors of these key coastal habitats be protected together. they can help to restore lost predator/prey relationships.10 Despite the urgent need to provide such coverage. where a habitat has been damaged through bottom trawling or other destructive activities. 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). diversity. w o r l d w a t c h . biomass had doubled and average catches had increased 46 to 90 percent depending on the size of trap used. recommended that at least 20 to 30 percent of all ocean habitats be increases in the abundance of coral trout.17 At the Soufriere Marine Management Area in St.11 Of this. seamounts. the catch per unit of effort of a surrounding ﬁshery had increased by more than 60 percent. and many forms of marine pollution is to prevent these threats from occurring in the ﬁrst place.19 Marine reserves can address the problems of ecosystem damage in cases where a species has been depleted by overﬁshing and. an intergovernmental body that meets once a decade to set the agenda for protected areas.1 percent is fully protected. the biomass of commercial ﬁsh species had tripled within the closed reserves. remain vulnerable. mangroves. saw a similar result: after only ﬁve years of protection. in areas outside the reserves. secure ecosystem processes. the best way to address worsening climate change. at times. o r g Hawksbill turtle in the Apo Island Marine Reserve. Lucia. after three years of protection. established in 1995. and seagrass beds. © Greenpeace/Gavin Newman included in a network of marine reserves. Following the creation of a marine reserve in New Zealand. the World Parks Congress.9 Others have called for an even more precautionary approach. 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. the Philippines. and many critical ocean ecosystems. compared to pre-reserve abundance. including coral reefs. providing refuges for populations whose distribution is being forced to change as a result of climate change. their ecosystems may become more resilient than those of exploited areas.18 Marine reserves in the Red Sea.12 (See Table 1. w w w. and eggs across reserve boundaries.) Because of the associated functions of coral reefs. and productivity of marine organisms.13 Marine reserves can result in long-lasting and often rapid increases in the abundance. suggesting that up to 50 percent of the sea should be protected to conserve viable marine populations.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 . 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.20 Although marine reserves cannot directly reverse the impacts of climate change or pollution or severe physical damage. size. potentially mitigating some of the negative consequences. After ﬁve years.
however. U.28 The concept of fully protected marine reserves is gaining broader acceptance in both developing and industrialized countries. a new marine protection law under development in the EU may bring greater protection of regional waters. a variety of regional conventions have called for MPA networks in the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas and the northeast Atlantic. as with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.23 A network of smaller coastal reserves has the advantage of spreading ﬁshery beneﬁts to nearby communities.25 A global reserve network should be representative of the broad spectrum of marine life. some 980 MPAs cover 18. that support outstanding concentrations of animals and plants. Seamounts So far.4 percent of these are within fully protected no-take reserves.31 Once adopted. that are important to airbreathing aquatic animals like seabirds. encompassing nearly 140. turtles. including relatively undisturbed coral reefs. WWF worked with the Azores regional government to have the relatively shallow Lucky Strike and Menez Gwen vent fields designated as MPAs in 2002. 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. many of which suffer from poor management and enforcement. including places that are biologically rich. such as upwellings and oceanic convergence zones. In November 2005. Seagrasses No MPAs have been designated solely for the protection of seagrasses. 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. deserve protection because of their high productivity. governments may be able to use satellite technologies to update ﬂeets about the positions of the designated reserves.) To be representative. Level of Protection of Critical Marine Ecosystems Coral Reefs Globally. Sources: See Endnote 12 for this section. 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. In cases where the location of such sites is not ﬁxed.000 square miles (363.33 In 2004. w o r l d w a t c h . Lucia can be attributed to the full involvement of various stakeholders from the planning stages onward. In the northeast Atlantic off Portugal. they are far more likely to support them.000 square kilometers) of U.S. though implementation has been slow to date. sustainable ﬁshing areas. Mangroves About 9 percent of the world’s mangroves lie within MPAs. Hydrothermal In March 2003. parties to the Convention on Biological O C E A N S I N P E R I L 31 . the Canadian government legalized the Vents Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents MPA southwest of Vancouver as the nation’s first MPA.S. Finally. as well as birds and other animals that risk being killed as bycatch. Bush w w w. and that are particularly threatened or vulnerable to human impacts. waters. relatively few seamount sites have been designated as marine reserves or MPAs. o r g designated the world’s largest marine conservation area off the coast of Hawaii. renewable energy.Freedom for the Seas including by accelerating the transition to clean. certain areas on the high seas.7 percent of the world’s coral reef habitats.24 Much of the success of the marine reserves in St.27 Temporary and/or moveable reserves could also be used to protect migrating species like turtles that follow predictable routes across the oceans. well-managed.26 It is also critical to protect areas that are important spawning and nursery grounds. the grasses have been on lists of key habitats singled out when sites are recommended for protection. only 1. President George W. and marine mammals. Table 1. 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.29 And in 2006.32 At the global level. and that have high numbers of rare or endemic species. creating an area where removal of marine resources is not permitted without a license and approved research plan. however. though greater protection is required for effective mangrove conservation.
the U. For instance. and management of high-seas marine reserves. resolution. Among other things.37 Such an agreement would need to be supplemented by other efforts to address speciﬁc threats to the high seas.Freedom for the Seas Diversity (CBD) also committed to the establishment of such a network within this timeframe. • Require that an environmental impact assessment be carried out before approval of any bioprospecting activities in the high seas.N. General Assembly agreed that some measures should be taken to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems from destructive high-seas bottom trawling. 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).40 Countries that ﬂag vessels that trawl in these areas. as well as regional ﬁsheries management organizations with the competence to manage deep-sea ﬁsheries. but also requires them to take measures to protect and preserve the marine environment. 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. and • Encourage the sharing of knowledge on highseas biodiversity through the creation of a publicly available list of species. along with marine scientists and environmental groups. are tasked with regulating this activity to ensure the protection of vulnerable ecosystems.”39 In December 2006. from overﬁshing and destructive ﬁshing practices to marine pollution and climate change.N. which was itself negotiated to implement some of the Articles of UNCLOS. Several countries. It could be modeled on the U. but it would permit a ‘time out’ to make proper scientiﬁc assessments of these areas and to develop effective policy solutions.36 What is needed to ﬁll the present legal void in regulation is an integrated.N. Secretary General recommended that. only a few ocean areas have been afforded protection from the highly damaging practice of bottom trawling. 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. o r g . There are advantages to developing such an implementing agreement under UNCLOS. 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. have been lobbying the United Nations to impose a moratorium on this activity in the high seas. control.34 However. 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. 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. “global ﬁsheries authorities agree to eliminate bottom trawling on the high seas by 2006 and eliminate bottom trawling globally by 2010.35 UNCLOS not only offers countries the right to use the oceans. Fish Stocks Agreement. the agreement could: • Provide a clear mandate and legal duty to protect high-seas biodiversity. establishment. the leading international treaty that governs countries’ rights and duties in the high seas. founded on ecosystem-based management and the precautionary principle. w o r l d w a t c h . and ecosystembased management approach to promote the conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment in areas beyond national jurisdiction. • Provide a clear mandate for the identiﬁcation. an advisory body to the U. selection. A legally binding international agreement would not only help protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.41 But action on these measures is still required to ensure adequate protection of deep-sea habitats. and surveillance mechanism for human activities on the high seas.38 In 2005. Since the adoption of the U. precautionary. • Establish an effective centralized monitoring.N. w w w.
stock declines.N.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. 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. 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. Until these international instruments are uniw w w. is a more appropriate forum for such discussions because it focuses speciﬁcally on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity rather than on trade.N. and other operational costs that enable ﬂeets to ﬁsh beyond their capacity. In a 2003 study. 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.N. the entire Doha Round of world trade talks was suspended. Governments must also agree to phase out harmful subsidies that contribute to excess ﬁshing capacity. © Michael Renner 33 . Sri Lanka. equipment.48 But some critics. they could lead to a broad prohibition of harmful subsidies in marine wild-capture ﬁsheries. Fish Stocks Agreement. the Paciﬁc. it would be irresponsible for WTO members to engage in greater liberalization of ﬁsh trade. Each year. say the U. o r g versally adhered to and enforced. tariffs are often the last industrial policy instruments left to developing countries to protect domestic ﬁshing industries. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “Code of Conduct” for Responsible Fisheries.43 However. $20 billion of which goes to boat construction. and the Caribbean are concerned they will lose their current trade advantages if such liberalization goes ahead. Trade liberalization can also open developing-country waters to foreign export-oriented ﬂeets. and the World Summit on Sustainable Development’s Plan of Implementation.45 In July 2006. causing problems of overﬁshing. overﬁshing. ﬁsheries trade liberalization would likely beneﬁt only a handful of industrialized. ﬁsh-exporting countries and put increasing pressure on world ﬁsh stocks.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. Convention on Biological Diversity. w o r l d w a t c h . and unsustainable ﬁshing practices. These include processes under the U. and reduction of marine biodiversity. and many countries in Africa. the U. the ﬁshing sector receives an estimated $30–34 billion in external support. 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. leading to increased competition with ﬁsheries for wild feed.44 It also predicted that tariff reductions would stimulate aquaculture production. Overall.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. and negotiations have resumed only on an informal basis. such as Greenpeace. fuel. rather than the WTO.47 If successful.42 As part of the recent “Doha Round” of trade talks in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
and outlaw ﬂags of convenience. the U. and use of mitigation methods is also inconsistent or non-existent in many Southern Ocean ﬂeets. 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 .56 A voluntary program. Several international agreements already in place. and the United States have all adopted mitigation methods to manage seabird mortality for some North Paciﬁc longline ﬁsheries.57 Regional ﬁsheries management organizations can also play a greater role in addressing bycatch.55 In 1998. prosecute companies that support IUU ﬁshing.” known as IPOA-SEABIRDS. the FAO model scheme for port control. and build the capacity to gain the full economic and social beneﬁts from their natural resources. the FAO set up an “International Plan of Action for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds in longline ﬁsheries. and dyeing baits blue.589 in 1997 to only 15 in 2003.52 Mitigating Bycatch of Seabirds. Greater use of mitigation efforts is also needed to deal with the incidental capture or entanglement of marine mammals. though so far only the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has taken comprehensive mitigation action.58 Within the treaty area. In addition. including the FAO Compliance Agreement. China. and Taiwan lack such regulations. © 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. and the FAO international plan to prevent. Turtles. Mexico. and eliminate IUU ﬁshing. between Australia and New Zealand. deter. and working to make ﬁshing activities less visible.51 By negotiating fairer deals. it aims to encourage countries involved in longlining to identify where seabird bycatch is a problem. w o r l d w a t c h . unreported. to develop a national plan of action for how to reduce it. if properly implemented. in 2006.50 In the case of tuna ﬁshing in the Paciﬁc. o r g Unwanted bycatch. Fish Stocks Agreement. Other solutions include establishing a central monitoring. Governments need to close ports and markets to such ﬁshers and their ﬁsh.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. such as by setting baited lines at night. including a starfish. and to prescribe appropriate mitigation measures. control. would provide comprehensive and effective measures against IUU ﬁshing. setting them deep underwater through tubes. Japan. Stronger global effort is also needed to address illegal. seabird deaths from bycatch declined from 6. 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. including full traceability of seafood products.N. Korea. the amount that foreign ﬂeets pay countries for the them adopt sustainable seafood policies. however.Freedom for the Seas access agreements are often in the hands of private companies that negotiate ‘sweetheart’ deals with sometimes-corrupt governments. far outweighs the target catch of orange roughy from a deep-sea trawl in international waters of the Tasman Sea. ensure continued livelihoods and incomes. which alert animals to the presence of w w w.54 Canada. coastal states can manage their resources in a sustainable way. and Marine Mammals Tackling IUU ﬁshing could also help address the serious problem of marine bycatch by minimizing unregulated and unscrupulous ﬁshing activities. Russia. adding weights to longlines to accelerate sink rates. and unregulated (IUU) ﬁshing both in coastal waters and on the high seas. Acoustic alarms.
the world’s largest food retailer. Wal-Mart. for example. w o r l d w a t c h .66 The chronic effects of prolonged chase and frequent capture may be impairing breeding success. the supermarket chain Waitrose now provides information on the origins of all seafood sold at its fresh ﬁsh counters. bycatch of sea turtles has been addressed in part by mandating the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in the shrimp trawling industry. shark.62 In December 2005.000 in 1986 to less than 2. as of April 2007. In the United Kingdom.69 More research is also needed to develop effective turtle bycatch mitigation techniques for longline ﬁsheries.70 Targeting Seafood Buyers and the Aquaculture Industry Because intergovernmental and even national policies can be difﬁcult to implement. under the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas. and the International Whaling Commission. Marine Mammal Protection Act has set a goal of reaching near-zero levels of incidental mortality of marine mammals.75 Even so.S.64 As a result of innovative mitigation measures to guarantee “dolphinsafe” tuna—including changes in ﬁshing gear and net-setting.63 In the United States.Freedom for the Seas ﬁshing gear or cause them to swim away. recommends that countries adopt national action plans to reduce incidental mortality. noncompliance still occurs. much more can be done to encourage both producers and conO C E A N S I N P E R I L 35 . the U. established in 2002 with the support of WWF.71 One way to do this is by mandating strict seafood labeling that requires producers to disclose where and how the ﬁsh was caught. only around 6 percent (by quantity) of the world’s wild capture ﬁsheries were engaged in the MSC program. tuna ﬁshery dropped from an estimated 133.76 Given that the global demand for seafood continues to rise.000 in 1998. dolphin populations have not yet recovered. has certiﬁed more than 20 ﬁsheries worldwide and grants its blue eco-label to more than 600 sustainably sourced seafood products.72 The company no longer sells marlin. a leading accreditor of sustainable ﬁsheries.S. 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. and orange roughy due to concerns about ﬁshing methods or sustainability. U.65 But although recent mortality should no longer be signiﬁcant from a population point of view.S. This work has been conducted by several U.73 In a move that could have a signiﬁcant impact on the seafood market. and modiﬁcation of ﬁshing gear or practices.60 Marine mammal bycatch is also being addressed at the international level. the Agreement for the International Dolphin Conservation Program for the Eastern Paciﬁc. government w w w. a bottom-up approach—stimulating consumer market demand for “sustainable seafood”— can serve as a parallel means to encourage more responsible ﬁshing practices. has pledged to sell only “MSC-certiﬁed” wild-caught fresh and frozen ﬁsh in North America within 3–5 years.61 The Cetacean Bycatch Resource Center.67 TEDs have also been implemented in 15 other countries that export shrimp to the United States. o r g agencies and by the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles.74 The London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). have been effective in the Gulf of Maine and the North Paciﬁc. Other mitigation measures include the use of weights on the tops of ﬁshing nets that allow small marine mammals to swim over. WWF worked with the Mexican government to eliminate the use of gillnets and shrimp trawls across the range of the endangered vaquita porpoise. releasing live animals from ﬁshing gear. sturgeon products.68 While TED programs have been cited as a “success story” of bycatch mitigation. an intergovernmental treaty that provides the legal framework for countries in the Americas to take actions to beneﬁt sea turtles.S. and hand rescue by divers— dolphin mortality from the U.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.
o r g . even if many POPs are phased out globally. OSPAR has also adopted a precautionary strategy to tackle radioactive pollution.78 To protect coastal ecosystems such as wetlands and mangroves. 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. emission. exacerbates the problems of overﬁshing due to the use of wild ﬁsh for feed. emissions. despite their potential toxicity to marine life (so far. in part because of parallel efforts to develop stricter chemicals regulations within Europe. but global action will ultimately be needed.84 But implementation has been slow. they will leave a legacy for years to come as they continue to leach out from materials and persist in the environment. But most aquaculture. Alongside its chemicals target. in 1995 the International Maritime Organization agreed to regulations for a global phase out of singlehulled oil tankers.81 Several of these substances are being regulated on a national or regional level in Europe.Freedom for the Seas sumers to support sustainable seafood.79 Combating Marine Pollution Wide-ranging efforts are also needed to tackle the myriad sources of marine pollution. such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). 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.82 Unfortunately. real progress may be achieved only as existing nuclear facilities reach the end of their working lives. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).80 But the treaty does not apply to any brominated ﬂame retardants. However. and increase productivity. agreed to in December 2006. and the United States. both the ﬁshing industry and governments have promoted farmed ﬁsh as a “sustainable” solution to ﬁshery depletions. The new REACH (Registration. including the most commonly used brominated ﬂame retardants. With regard to oil pollution. over some periods. with the exception of some herbivorous shellﬁsh farms and freshwater herbivorous ﬁsh farms. Japan. reduce costs. But seafood labeling can be tricky.88 Environmental groups are now demanding that the industry pay for the damage caused by accidents through full and w w w. an issue of long-standing disagreement in northern Europe. one form of the chemicals has been proposed for the list and another is under review for inclusion).83 Since then.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). governments can pass enforceable regulations on the positioning of aquaculture facilities. For instance. 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. with the ultimate target of near-background or near-zero levels. increasing) discharges from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants. requires governments to take measures to eliminate or reduce releases of certain well-known persistent chemicals. which entered into force in May 2004. Evaluation and Authorisation of CHemicals) legislation.86 The agreement requires progressive and substantial reduction in discharges. the legacy of radioactive pollution of marine ecosystems in the northeast Atlantic will continue to grow. Efﬂuent wastes from aquaculture can be reduced by using integrated systems to efﬁciently utilize food and water resources. it represents a signiﬁcant step forward. implementation has been limited here too by the ongoing (and. w o r l d w a t c h . In the meantime. 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. Governments could also eliminate subsidies for ecologically unsound aquaculture and impose ﬁnes to help reduce escapes by farmed species into the wider environment. rather than through any radical change in policy or practice.77 To address the negative effects of aquaculture. China. and losses of radioactive substances to the marine environment by 2020. In 1998.87 In the end.
reducing the problem of marine debris will require a “zerowaste” strategy that encompasses waste reduction. however. there is an urgent need to phase out the use of oil and to move toward clean. Although the state of the Earth’s oceans has deteriorated rapidly in recent years.89 A variety of global. reuse. from the owners. the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships (MARPOL). 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. and recycling as well as producer responsibility and eco-friendly design. the greatest remaining global commons. through the establishment of networks of large-scale. Protecting the myriad of marine life—from the largest whales to the smallest planktonic creature—is necessary not only for its own sake. 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. 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. there is also growing scientiﬁc evidence that these negative trends could be reversed. The implemen- tation of the ecosystem approach. Ultimately. and national initiatives aim to protect the oceans from marine debris. given that most of this debris originates on land. and school and public education programs. © Greenpeace/Gavin Newman w w w. managers. helping to slow the expansion of dead zones and ultimately reversing this trend. even with full global compliance with the treaty these sources would remain. however. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 37 . campaigns to prevent losses due to poor industrial practice. this would also help lessen nutrient inputs to the coastal marine environment. The most far reaching of these. w o r l d w a t c h . renewable energy. The Future There is still much to learn about the complex ecology of our oceans. however. Unless urgent action is taken. In light of the toxicity of oil spills and the emerging threats of climate change.91 Other measures to address marine debris include manual clean-up operations. 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. and operators of vessels to any charterers or owners of the cargo.90 There is some evidence that the implementation of MARPOL has reduced the marine debris problem.Freedom for the Seas unlimited liability along a chain of responsibilities. the Philippines. However. international. Together with more sustainable farming methods. but for ours too. fully protected marine reserves and the sustainable management of surrounding waters. A school of jacks in Apo Island Marine Reserve.
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34 Black Sea. 16. 14–15 ecological approach and. 7. 32. 18 Brazil. 16 China ecological approach and. 12 cyanide. 8. 36 ﬁshery depletions. 9 dugong. 26. 10 D dead zones. 22 in open ocean. 36 ﬁshery depletion and. 15–16 mangrove forests and. 22–23. 21–23. 35 Bangladesh. 33 Albatross Task Force. 33–36 in Indonesia. 10. 24–25 bioaccumulative pollutants. 12 marine reserves and. 36 pollution and. 18 mangrove forests. 10. 35 drift algae. 10. 35–36 beneﬁts. 8. 30. diversity of. 26 deep sea biodiversity in. 26 climate change changing seas and. 12 BirdLife International. 22. 30 coastal zone biodiversity of. 28 Southeast Asia. 9 in seagrass beds. 34 carbon dioxide emissions. 12. 34–35 threat to drift algae. see also aquaculture industry destructive methods. 33–34 for marine pollution. 33–34 Doha Round (WTO). 9–10. 11 Australia ﬁshery depletions. 31–32 CCAMLR. 35 IUU ﬁshing. 32.Index A acidiﬁcation of oceans. 30 Adriatic Sea. George W. 31 bycatch. 34 Antarctica. 30 pollution from. 20. 8. 26 seamounts. 11 pollution and. 19–23 ecological approach to. 5. 11–12 bottom trawling and. 6 mangrove forests and. 14–15 E East China Sea. 36 Chile. 19–21 level of protection. 36–37 52 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. 8 climate changes and. 13. 35–36 feed considerations. 26 Africa. 15. 15 in mangrove forests. 12. 33 dolphins. 26 bottom trawling destructive nature of. 31 crustaceans in coral reefs. 11 pollution and. 34 Cetacean Bycatch Resource Center. see also seabirds climate changes and. 22 in mangrove forests. 11 pollution and. 10 C California. 32 aquaculture industry. 24 ecosystem approach with aquaculture industry. 13. 9 coral bleaching. 6 Arctic Ocean. 19. 9–12 ecological approach to. 17–18. 7–9 bottom trawling. 33. 5. 11 ocean acidiﬁcation and. 10 in deep sea.. 27 CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity). 22 Caribbean Sea biodiversity in. 16–17 mangrove forests. 18 marine reserves and. 21 Atlantic Ocean climate changes and. 19–20 coral reefs biodiversity in. 11–12 Bush. 36 ﬁshery depletions. 9–12 climate changes and. 24–25 in seagrass beds. 18 BFRs (brominated ﬂame retardants). 12 B Baltic Sea. 6 ecological approach. o r g . 14–15 IUU ﬁshing. 6. 30 mangrove forests. 7 farming. 33 pollution in. 9–10 marine reserves and. 11 Barents Sea. 24. 34. 17 Great Barrier Reef. 20–21 ecological approach in. 9 bird species. 16–18 distant-water access agreements. 21 ecological approach and. 35 chemical contamination. 18. 35–36 Denmark. 32 impact of. 20 Canada. 14. 5. 17–18. see also commercial ﬁshing ecosystem approach. 6 for bycatch. 25 commercial ﬁshing. 11 threats to marine life. w o r l d w a t c h . 24 bioprospecting. 34–35 for commercial ﬁshing. 9. 31 sustainable management of. 16 spread of. 15 disease seaweed and.
35 Gulf of Mexico. 14. 31–34 IUU ﬁshing. 14 Greenland Ice Sheet. 15 Europe climate changes and. 17. 11 J Japan ecological approach and. 31 w w w. 19 hurricanes. 20–21 ecological approach. 15 longline ﬁshing. 11–12 mangrove forests. see aquaculture ﬁsh species. 11–12 endemism. 10. 15 K Korea. 18. 34–35 of sustainable management. 14 Nigeria. 7–8 in mangrove forests. 11 North Paciﬁc Gyre. 18. 35 MARPOL. 15 India. 12 ﬁsh stocks ecological approach. w o r l d w a t c h . 33 oil spills. 26–27. 16. 36 overﬁshing coral reefs and. 18. 10–11 ecological approach to. 15 Lebanon.Index for marine reserves. 19–20. 6. 31 pollution and. 36 Egypt. 11 manatees. 30. 11 pollution and. 8 English Channel. 17–18. 24 Latvia. 8. 9–11. 29–32 mitigating bycatch. 15 OSPAR Commission. 14. 14–15. 26 ghost ﬁshing. 36 ﬁshery depletion and. 8 bycatch. 8 New Zealand biodiversity in. 16 pollution and. 9–10 ﬁshery depletions and. 34 microbes in mangrove forests. 17 Gulf of Maine. 18 in open ocean. 33 Guam. 27 entanglement. 26 Newfoundland (Canada). 32 EEZs (exclusive economic zones).N. 29. 20 in seagrass beds. 27 Honduras. diversity of climate changes and. 27–28 Lithuania. 9 industrial ﬁshing. 37 medicine. 7 ocean acidiﬁcation and. 8–9. 9–12. 25 fungi in mangrove forests. 37 Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). 17 Indian Ocean. 35 invertebrates coral reefs and. 25 IUCN (World Conservation Union). 28 Great Barrier Reef (Australia). 24. 27–28 marine ecosystems in coastal zone. 31 hypothermia. 26 jellyﬁsh. 20–21 ecological approach and. 7. 27 North Sea climate changes and. 14–16 Malaysia. 26 marine mammals along coral reefs. 17 pollution and. seabed. 31 I Iceland. 34. 17. 10–11. 36 ﬁshery depletions and. 5. 15–16 pollution and. 20 Indonesia. Fish Stocks Agreement. 9 pollution and. 26 Gulf Stream. 26 Norway. 34–35 industrially ﬁshed species. 9 IPOA-SEABIRDS. 31. 13–18 in mangrove forests. 13–18 Florida. 9–10. 6. 13–15 U. 12. 28 status. 32 H Hawaii. 15–16. 11 in open ocean. 12 MPAs (marine protected areas). 12 hydrothermal vents.N. 20. 18 pollution and. 11. 34 Ireland. 15 Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles. 9 in deep sea. 22 in coral reefs. 17 IUU ﬁshing. 11. 31 Mexico. 27 Exxon Valdez tanker. 17. 12 industrial ﬁshing. 11 in seagrass beds. 35 ﬁshery depletions. 11. 13. 15 France. 18 efﬂuent discharge. 34 G Galicia. 13. 32–34 ﬁshery depletions. 30 Great Ocean Conveyor Belt. 8 ecological approach in. 20. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 53 . 25–26 Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. 5–6. 21 Estonia. Food and Agriculture Organization) agreement. 9–10 Mediterranean Sea. 21 Greece. 10 mollusks in coastal zone. 15. 10 in deep sea. 16. 22 rising sea temperatures. 36 International Whaling Commission. 27. 27 Indo-Paciﬁc Ocean. 24–28 O OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 33–34 ﬁsh farming. 11 endangered species. 27. 9 N New Caledonia. 7–9 IUU ﬁshing. 15 marine reserves and. 31 marine debris. 21. 9 along seamounts. 9–12 in deep sea. 21 M mackerel. 35 International Maritime Organization. 9–10. 36–37 open ocean biodiversity in. 34–35 erosion. commercial harvesting for. 8 mining. 8. 35 ﬁshery depletions. 5–6. 19. 15–16 pollution and. 21 Greenpeace. 10 Gulf of California. 29–32. 26 marine reserves. 34 L lactational transfer. 34 F FAO (U.
6 seabirds along coral reefs. 34–35 drift algae. 34 Tasmania. 34 overﬁshing of. 22 Southeast Asia. 25. 17. 30–31 in open ocean. 24–26 on seamounts. 11. 35 Portugal. 17 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). 12. 35 as EEZ. 36 Red Sea. 15 sharks. 35 ﬁshery depletion and. 30 World Summit on Sustainable Development. 11 wave action. 10–12. 24–25 rainforests of the sea. 19. 15 pH values of oceans. 36–37 efﬂuent discharge. 9 U. 14–15 South America. 7–8 ecological approach in. 11 skates. 34 ﬁshery depletions and. 35 R radioactive substances. 16–17 scientiﬁc research. 9. 10. see coral reefs rays. 9. 8. 17. Lucia. 35–36 swordﬁsh. 18 Spain. 17. 16. 18 ﬁshery depletions. 9 pollution and. 12 POPs (persistent organic pollutants). 24. 34 T Taiwan. 22 pollution coral reefs and. 12 Thailand. 34–35 United Nations on bycatch. 26–27 polar bears. 13. 12 seals. 12 sea temperatures. 17–18 in open ocean. 10 PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers). 27 U United Kingdom. 10. 10. 7 in seagrass beds. 12 Sri Lanka. 9 industrially ﬁshed species. 21 whales climate changes and. 9. 9 Papua New Guinea. 36 marine life and. rising. 9 pollution and. National Marine Fisheries Service. 8 seagrass beds bottom trawling and. 31 in Thailand. 27–28 seagrass beds and. 17–18. 12 WTO (World Trade Organization). 12 West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 17 V Vietnam. 21. 32–33 Fish Stocks Agreement. 9 in deep sea. 24–25 World Conservation Union (IUCN). 31. 33 WWF. 35 water quality. 32–34 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Marine Mammal Protection Act. 22 ecological approach in. 9 marine reserves and. coral reefs. 12 P Paciﬁc Ocean coral reefs. 22. 9 ecosystem approach. 8. 15. 35 Wal-Mart.Index ﬁshery depletions. 17 open ocean species. 35 temperatures. 36 Peru. 16–17. 10. 10. 16 tourism. 30 seagrass beds and. 21 Sea of Japan. 19–21 seabed mining. 15 sponges in coastal zone. 31 seaweed. 31–33 worms. 21 as threat to marine life. 15 Prestige tanker. 33 ecological approach of. 30 Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 9 bycatch. 34–35 climate changes and. 24–25 PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). 15 marine reserves and. 37 pollution and. 10–11 Southern Ocean climate changes and. 22 Philippines biodiversity in. 21 coral reefs and. 24–25 seamounts. 25. 14–15. 27. 10 ﬁshery depletion. o r g . rise in. 17 World Parks Congress. 33 St. 36 sustainable management of high seas. 16. 26 South Orkney Islands. 32. 14–16 rising sea temperatures and. 11. w o r l d w a t c h . see sea temperatures Texas. 34 Russia. 7. 15–16 sediments. 10–11 drift algae and. 11 W Waitrose supermarket chain. 24. 10 tuna ecological approach. 10. 33 54 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. 15–17 Singapore. 21 plankton. 7–8. 9.S. 23 ecological approach. 22 poisons. 33–34 Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 8 TED (turtle excluder device). 12 S salmon. 14–15 REACH legislation. 13. 27 photosynthesis. 13–16 pollution and. 11. 10. 12 level of protection. 8–9 sea levels. 31 pollution and. 16 marine reserves. 35 U. 36 porpoises. 14 shellﬁsh. 14 turtles bycatch of. 24 seamounts and. 6. 30–31 Stockholm Convention. 24–28 marine reserves and. 32. 7. 10 Z zero-for-zero tariffs. 15. 8 Turkey. 11 threat to. 9 depicted. 35–36 upwelling systems. 5 in coastal zone. 14. 10. 15 shrimp farming. 29. 27 tsunamis. 19 deep-sea species. see also speciﬁc states. 20. 32 United States.S. 33.
2000 149: Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape. w o r l d w a t c h . 2002 162: The Anatomy of Resource Wars. 2000 147: Reinventing Cities for People and the Planet. quantitative. 2002 156: City Limits: Putting the Brakes on Sprawl. They are used as concise and authoritative references by governments. 1998 138: Rising Sun. Gathering Winds: Policies To Stabilize the Climate and Strengthen Economies. 2003 164: Invoking the Spirit: Religion and Spirituality in the Quest for a Sustainable World. and Security 173: Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace. 2002 161: Correcting Gender Myopia: Gender Equity. 1997 On Ecological and Human Health 165: Winged Messengers: The Decline of Birds. 2003 153: Why Poison Ourselves: A Precautionary Approach to Synthetic Chemicals. 2007 168: Venture Capitalism for a Tropical Forest: Cocoa in the Mata Atlântica. and the Environment. and Urbanization 172: Catch of the Day: Choosing Seafood for Healthier Oceans. 2005 163: Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market. 2003 167: Sustainable Development for the Second World: Ukraine and the Nations in Transition. and Materials 169: Mainstreaming Renewable Energy in the 21st Century. Energy. The Reports are written by members of the Worldwatch Institute research staff or outside specialists and are reviewed by experts unafﬁliated with Worldwatch. and educational institutions worldwide. 1998 On Economics. 1999 142: Rocking the Boat: Conserving Fisheries and Protecting Jobs. 1998 140: Taking a Stand: Cultivating a New Relationship With the World’s Forests. 2001 154: Deep Trouble: The Hidden Threat of Groundwater Pollution. 2004 160: Reading the Weathervane: Climate Policy From Rio to Johannesburg. and qualitative analysis of the major issues affecting prospects for a sustainable society.org/taxonomy/term/40 w w w. Population. 2003 166: Purchasing Power: Harnessing Institutional Procurement for People and the Planet. 2001 158: Unnatural Disasters. o r g O C E A N S I N P E R I L 55 . businesses. 1999 To order any of the above titles or to see a complete list of Reports. 2002 159: Traveling Light: New Paths for International Tourism.Other Worldwatch Reports Worldwatch Reports provide in-depth. visit www. nongovernmental organizations. 2000 150: Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition. 2001 On Food. 1999 145: Safeguarding the Health of Oceans. 1999 144: Mind Over Matter: Recasting the Role of Materials in Our Lives. 2002 157: Hydrogen Futures: Toward a Sustainable Energy System. 2006 171: Happer Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry. On Climate Change. 1998 141: Losing Strands in the Web of Life: Vertebrate Declines and the Conservation of Biological Diversity. Water. 2001 151: Micropower: The Next Electrical Era.worldwatch. Institutions. Women’s Welfare. 2000 148: Nature’s Cornucopia: Our Stakes in Plant Diversity. 2005 170: Liquid Assets: The Critical Need to Safeguard Freshwater Ecosytems.
and fact-based analysis of critical global issues. the Norwegian Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Kellogg Foundation. accessible. and the Winslow Foundation. the Johanette Wallerstein Institute. the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. Worldwatch informs people around the world about the complex interactions among people. Worldwatch focuses on the underlying causes of and practical solutions to the world’s problems. the German Government. and lifestyle choices. The Institute also receives ﬁnancial support from many individual donors who share our commitment to a more sustainable society. the United Nations Population Fund. and economies. Inc. in order to inspire people to demand new policies. K. the V. The Goldman Environmental Prize. Kann Rasmussen Foundation. o r g . The Shenandoah Foundation. By providing compelling. Support for the Institute is provided by the Blue Moon Fund. the Marianists of the USA. the Sierra Club. w o r l d w a t c h . 56 O C E A N S I N P E R I L w w w. Leuthold Family Foundation. the Wallace Global Fund. investment patterns. the United Nations Environment Programme. the Steven C. the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. the W.About Worldwatch The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization that works for an environmentally sustainable and socially just society. The Shared Earth Foundation. nature. the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. in which the needs of all people are met without threatening the health of the natural environment or the well-being of future generations. the Wallace Genetic Foundation..
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. Presently. use of destructive ﬁshing methods. The activities through which humans threaten marine life include overﬁshing. Yet the biological diversity of marine habitats is threatened by the activities of one largely land-based species: us.ORG . and many species have been severely depleted. 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. but for ours too. Current ﬁsheries management regimes contribute to the widespread market-driven degradation of the oceans by failing to implement and enforce adequate protective measures. This “ecosystem approach” is vital if we are to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations. WWW. and commercial aquaculture. Protecting the diversity of marine life—from the largest whales to the smallest planktonic creature—is necessary not only for its own sake. 76 percent of the world’s ﬁsh stocks are fully exploited or overexploited.WO R L DWAT C H R E P O RT 174 Oceans in Peril Protecting Marine Biodiversity The oceans cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and are home to a myriad of amazing and beautiful creatures. In addition. climate change and the related acidiﬁcation of the oceans is already having an impact on some marine ecosystems. pollution.WORLDWATCH.
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