Monday, May 9, 2011

The ocean gives us over half of the oxygen we breathe. Did you know that more than 50% of coral reefs around the globe are now gone? I bet you also might be surprised to find out that 90% of big fish in the ocean are now gone due to over fishing. Experts say that if over fishing is not addressed as a serious problem then that within the next 50 years all of the big fish in the ocean will be gone!  Sylvia Earle explains all  of this in her video after receiving a TED award. (The video is long but it is very informative!)

Did you know that the United States is the third largest consumer of seafood, consuming approximately 4.7 million metric tons a year! That is a lot of Sea Food! In order to repopulate the ocean with big fish people need to stop consuming big fish and only eat fish that are sustainable.  If humans choose to not eat fish, or choose sustainable fish in moderate quantities, the ocean's fish population will have a chance to return. (National Geographic)

Protecting the ocean is also something that I am passionate about. The National Marine Sanctuary Program was created by the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. National marine sanctuaries range in size from one-quarter square mile in Fagatele Bay to 14,000 square miles in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which is one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. The special habitats of the sanctuaries include deep ocean and near-shore coral reefs, live-bottom, whale migration corridors, deep sea canyons, areas of deep water upwelling, submerged banks that rise close to the ocean surface, kelp forests, and sea grass beds.  Approximately 12% of land is protected in national parks while less than 1% of the ocean is protected. This is mind boggling to me seeing as the ocean is such a vital part of life. Here is a tip from Planet Green to help save the ocean. You should say no to off shore drilling! Among many other problems, offshore drilling results in a wide range of health and reproductive problems for fish and other marine life, exposes wildlife to the threat of oil spills, and destroys kelp beds, reefs, and coastal wetlands.

Trawling is a fishing practice that drags large weighted nets across the ocean floor, clear-cutting a swath of habitat in their wake. It is a large net with weights and a steel cable to allow it to drag the ocean floor stirring up fish and catching them in the net. The weights and metal cable take out everything in their path and leave deep grooves in the ocean floor. Trawling destroys everything in its path including coral reefs and all marine life. Once coral and sponge communities are destroyed, commercial fish and other species dependent on them for spawning, shelter, nurseries, protection, and food may also disappear. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) estimates more than a million pounds of corals and sponges are caught per year and discarded by bottom trawlers. Additionally, huge amounts of corals never make it to the surface to be counted. As the heavy nets drag the floor of the ocean, countless corals and sponges are ripped, overturned, or pulverized and left on the bottom to die. Immediate measures are needed to stop the horrifically destructive fishing practice of bottom trawling from destroying deep sea living seafloor habitat in order to maintain sustainable oceans for this and future generations.
Another problem is the large amount of trash that is dumped into the ocean. Early dumping started in rivers, lakes, and estuaries, whereas ocean dumping was simply not used because of the distance and difficulty in transporting waste materials says Pollution Issues. The wastes from ships, however, were simply dumped directly into the ocean. As civilization developed at river deltas and in estuariesadjacent to the ocean, and these areas soon began to display the effects of dumping, disposal in the ocean became a popular alternative. Over the past 150 years, all types of wastes have been ocean dumped. These include sewage (treated and untreated), industrial waste, military wastes (munitions and chemicals), entire ships, trash, garbage, dredged material, construction debris, and radioactive wastes (both high- and low-level). It is important to note that significant amount of wastes enter the ocean through river, atmospheric, and pipeline discharge; construction; offshore mining; oil and gas exploration; and shipboard waste disposal. Unfortunately, the ocean has become the ultimate dumping ground for civilization. It has been recognized over the past fifty years that the earth's oceans are under serious threat from these wastes and their "witches' brew" of chemicals and non biodegradable components. Society has also come to understand that its oceans are under serious threat from overfishing, mineral exploration, and coastal construction activities. The detrimental effects of ocean dumping are physically visible at trashed beaches, where dead fish and mammals entangled in plastic products may sometimes be observed. They are additionally reflected in the significant toxic chemical concentrations in fish and other sea life. The accumulations of some toxins, especially mercury, in the bodies of sea life have resulted in some harvestable seafood unfit for human consumption. Seriously affected areas include commercial and recreational fishing, beaches, resorts, human health, and other pleasurable uses of the sea. During the 1960s numerous groups (global, regional, governmental, and environmental) began to report on the detrimental impact of waste disposal on the ocean. Prior to this time, few regulatory (or legal) actions occurred to control or prevent these dumping activities.

In order to get legislation passed to protect the oceans everyone needs to lend a helping hand because every little bit really does help, the best way to get things changed is to voice your opinions and make sure that people can hear you! Write to your congress men expressing your concerns about the ocean and all legislation that has to do with it. Join a group funding the preservation of the ocean and maybe even do some volunteer work. Attached are links to organizations and groups that support ocean conservation…

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