June 9, 2009 Leave a comment
So today is Ocean Day (or was it yesterday, not sure.) I was going to write a post about it detailing some of the issues that plague our oceans, but Roz Savage got there first with a very eloquent post she put together while rowing across the Pacific:
Did you know that 74% of the Earth?s surface is ocean? It?s where all
life on this planet began, and it?s what regulates our biosphere,
including the climate and weather.
The global ocean, our most precious resource, is in serious trouble
right now, so in honor of the first UN-sanctioned World Oceans Day, I
want to ask for your help in protecting it.
The three main ocean problems that need our immediate attention are
overfishing, plastics pollution, and ocean acidification. Today
provides the perfect opportunity to raise awareness for these
challenges, and to explain how we can immediately take action to make
Overfishing: The UN reports that 75% of seafood species are maxed out
or overexploited. Catches of nearly a third of these species are less
than 10% of what they once were. 90% of the big fish like sharks,
tuna, swordfish are already gone. How can you contribute to a
solution? Start by checking out this video on how to choose sustainable
Seafood. You can also carry a pocket guide with you to restaurants and
the grocery store so you can do a quick check to make sure you make
smart choices. I have a great app on my iPhone ? look for Seafood
Watch Guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Plastics pollution: For those of you who followed my row from San
Francisco to Hawaii last year, you already know what an insidious
threat plastics pollution is for the ocean. Plastics are not
biodegradable ? they take hundreds of years to break down into smaller
pieces, which never really go away. Plastics wreak havoc by leaching
toxins into the water and into the marine life that consumes the
pieces ? eventually making its way back up the food chain and onto our
dinner plates. How do we fix this? The best way is to immediately
reduce the amount of plastic you use. Simple ways to do this include
bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, using your own drinking
bottles and mugs rather than disposables, and making more conscious
purchases?support brands that use biodegradable packaging rather than
Styrofoam. And for the plastic that you do consume ? please recycle
it. Right now, less than 5% of the plastic we use is ever recycled.
Ocean acidification. Our actions, primarily our use of fossil fuels?
are rapidly changing the chemistry of the global ocean. How? The ocean
is absorbing 11 billion metric tons of CO2 a year, acidifying the
waters and threatening the foundation of sea life. Experts say that if
we don?t sharply reduce our CO2 emissions right now, within the next
few decades, it will be impossible for coral reefs, the most beautiful
and diverse marine habitats, to grow. Ocean acidification affects
every marine animal with a shell?oysters, lobsters, clams, starfish,
crabs and urchins. If these animals can?t survive, then the entire
ecosystem that relies upon them is impacted. This includes us. What do
we do? For starters, you can join me in my Pull Together effort to
walk more and drive less. Carpool with friends, colleagues or
schoolmates. Plant trees! They absorb harmful CO2 and reduce runoff.
And again, make more conscious purchasing decisions and support
businesses that are switching to renewable sources of energy.
Just to add to the picture, here is the content of an email I sent to a friend a few days ago:
About the “ocean acidification”, that has been known for a while. This means that any life which relies on calcium for a shell or support will have a hard time growing, this include all sea-shells, oysters, clams, etc… corals as well, though those at more at risk from warming oceans. The list is pretty depressing, since 1900 we have fished about 90% of the large fish stocks from the oceans, most of it in the last 30 years. Bluefin tuna is pretty much gone, there has been a 95% drop in the shark population across the eastern sea board (resulting in an explosion in the jelly fish and sting ray populations), we are officially fishing 38 million sharks (real number is about 70 million) a year from the oceans mostly for their fins (the fin-less sharks are tossed back to drown), and there is a “floating garbage patch” about the size of the USA swirling around in the Northern Pacific dropping crap on any islands in the way polluting beaches and killing coastal animals. Just about any ocean water you care to test to about 300′ will have plastic particles in it which makes its way into the food chain, and that stuff can’t be cleaned out.
If that wasn’t enough, the worse case scenarios suggest that they will be no large fish (over-fishing) and no coral (warming) in the oceans by 2050.