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WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR OCEAN FISHES & WHY?
Fishing is central to the livelihood and food security of 200 million people, especially in the developing world, while one of five people on this planet depends on fish as the primary source of protein. However, the Dalhousie Report, released in November 2006, predicts that by year 2048, all current ocean fish seafood species are projected to collapse."
Why should we care about healthy oceans and their wildlife? Because scientists now tell us that our oceans provide the "life support systems" on which all humans and life on planet earth depend, and it "drives" climate change!
SOME OF THE BIGGEST THREATS TO OCEAN HEALTH:
~ local and global over-fishing and destructive fishing practices like cyanide poisioning and dynamiting of ocean reefs in the Indo-Pacific Region, and by commercial bottom trawlers that take huge amounts of "by-catch" and also destroy entire ecosystems
~ nutrient pollution of coastal waters [nitrogen from lawn fertilizer "run-off" and other industry pollutants from land] cause excessive algae growth on coral reefs and also creates off-shore "dead zones"
~ climate change is increasing surface temperatures of our oceans, causing bleaching and death of coral reefs and ocean phytoplankton. These mostly single-cell organisms, create 70% of oxygen in our atmosphere and are primary producers in the marine food web
~ sediment runoff from coastal land masses [becaues of the removal of mangroves in order to make room for human development and agriculture right to the edge of the sea] suffocates living coral reefs
Read more details about these problems on page 3 of the Pew Oceans Report.
In September of 2005, the United States President's US Commission Ocean Policy Report was released to the public. It's main focus was an economic assessement of the tourist, fishing, and recreational benefits derived from our oceans, and then to make recommendations of how to restore and preserve this economically important natural resource.
"Teenagers were responsible for influencing [via their parents] the passage of the European set-belt law for auto drivers after several years of campaigns targeted at adults failed!" Jean-Michel Cousteau at World Ocean Network conference in France [January 2006], speaking about the positive power of youth if channeled!
Final IPCC Report Released "The language of science, like that of the United Nations, is by nature cautious and measured. That makes the dire tone of the just-released final report from the fourth assessment of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a network of thousands of international scientists, all the more striking. Global warming is 'unequivocal.' Climate change will bring 'abrupt and irreversible changes.' by Brian Walsh, Time Magazine, November 17, 2007
[Climate change and global warming are directly connected to our ocean in that our planet's ocean "drives" our climate. And, our ocean [the top 20 feet of it where the phytoplankton exist] is responsible for approximately 70% of the oxygen in our atmosphere, while removing the carbon dioxide. This is the same thing that trees do via photosynthesis, but our planet is 70% covered by water... so it plays a larger role in the sustainability of our life support systems. Scientists say that warming of our ocean waters is beginning to negatively impact the ability of phytoplankton to do their job.]
The first regional, long-term assessment of coral reef health in the Indo-Pacific region, reveals that the rate of reef loss about twice the rate of tropical rain forest loss. The Indo-Pacific region is home to 75 percent of the world's coral reefs and the greatest diversity of coral and fish.
FishBase.org is a global, online information system about 28,500 species of fishes, a Fish Forum, a book, and they are calling for more fish photos!
"Cyanide And Dynamite Fishing - Who's really responsible?" by Michael AW; Carlingford, Australia. This writing is from someone in Australia that has been watching this destructive fishing practice happen in Indonesia over the last 6-years. His report brings out the complexity of the situation from a first-hand viewpoint that sees all sides of the issue.
"By 2048 all current fish, seafood species projected to collapse" from Dalhousie report [Nov.2006]. This predicition was the result of the compilation of 10-years of ocean scientists sharing local data about ocean fish supplies, and has become the beacon for urgent action around the globe.
"The majority of people who consume salmon have no concept of the war being waged on the ocean environment and populations of wild juvenile fish... and human hazards of eating farm-raised salmon. - Ocean Futures Society, June 2007.
United Nations' "Ten Stories the World Should Hear More About" [their website 2006] Fishing is central to the livelihood and food security of 200 million people, and 1 in 5 people on this planet depends on fish as the primary source of protein.
"The Dying Oceans" [article of November 26, 2006] at the website of The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society [founded 1977] More than 60 conservation groups campaigned for more than two years for a ban on unregulated high seas bottom trawling. All of that effort, time, and expense was shot down by the vetoes of Iceland, Norway, China, Korea, and Canada.
"Global Warming Blues", Science magazine, AAAS [December 6, 2006] Satellite images indicate marine life does not deal well with climate change Phytoplankton, the microscopic [organisms] that permeate the oceans [especially near the surface layer], underlie the entire marine food chain. And they remove up to 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year from Earth's atmosphere--as much as all plant life on the planet's surface. That makes ocean plankton a "linchpin" in keeping atmospheric CO2 under control.
Over-fishing Off Ghana Linked to Rise in Wildlife Hunting, Science Reports [news release from: EurekAlert!] The depletion of fish in the waters off of Ghana is leading to a dramatic increase in the trade and consumption of wildlife, including antelopes, elephants and monkeys, according to a 30-year study published today in the journal Science.
"An Ocean Blueprint for the Twenty-First Century"  U.S. Commission on Ocean [a 4-year study] The report [in Chapter 8] stresses the important need for Ocean Stewardship via heighten public awareness, education [both formal and informal], and life-long learning programs about the importance of the oceans to daily lives and the sustainability of our planet as a whole.
"Sea Horse" animation by Sonya Ochshorn, 8th grader at ICE
[Institute for Collaborative Education, New York City]
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