Maxine Fay Miller
The Future of the Oceans
04 Feb 2009
Over-fishing, pollution and climate change are the greatest dangers to the world's oceans
A report by the Marine Conservation Society (MSC) has revealed that the seas around Britain face an ecological disaster because of over-fishing and pollution. Many fish species that were once common are now vastly reduced in number or locally extinct. The Marine Conservation Society warns that without urgent action to protect marine life and to limit the damage already inflicted marine ecosystems will face an ecological catastrophe.
Without careful regulation seas will become silent which would be reminiscent of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring of the 1960’s.
Over the past 25 years our oceans on planet Earth have suffered great losses of marine life. This loss of wildlife could result in fundamental ecological 'regime shifts' which has already happened in some parts of the world. For example, in shallow UK waters the populations of many predatory fish such as sharks, skates and rays have plummeted as a result of over-fishing and several once common species are now locally extinct. Over-fishing can lead to changes in marine ecosystems with animals at the bottom of the food chain becoming abundant. For example, over-fishing in Namibia's seas has led to a dramatic increase in jellyfish which now dominate the ecosystem.
Pollution of the marine ecosystems is another factor affecting the survival of fish and other marine wildlife. In the last 14 years, plastic litter washed up on UK beaches has increased by 126 per cent. A variety of marine species including sea birds, turtles, whales and seals are all killed by marine plastic either through entanglement, or ingestion causing death through starvation.
Fishing in the oceans of Our Future Planet will be carefully managed so that fish can be sustainably harvested at their maximum sustainable level so that their populations remain viable. Marine reserves will be highly protected and fishing practices will be selective so that fish populations are carefully monitored prior to fishing. Fishing quotas will be carefully monitored and fishing nets with large holes will be used to prevent the capture of young and juvenile fish. Young and juvenile fish are a crucial part of the natural marine ecosystem as they form the future breeding population that will breed to produce the fish of tomorrow. If young and juvenile fish are harvested (as on our current planet Earth) fish stocks are quickly depleted as they cannot be replenished.
On Our Future Planet biodegradable plastics and bio-packing biological packaging will be used and this will reduce man made pollution and help to keep our seas and ocean wildlife abundant and healthy. Thorough water treatment plants will be developed so that only clean waste water is released into our oceans.
On earth Climate Change is another critical factor that may tip the balance of marine ecosystems unless measures are taken to curb carbon dioxide emissions. On Our Future Planet carbon emissions will be carefully controlled using effective technologies and lifestyle changes(see Climate Change for more comments) so Climate Change will not be a problem to the world's oceans.