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Our oceans, coral, marine species, fish and fishing, shark finning, global warming and climate change

OUR OCEANS

An Overview by Project Ocean Vision



Turtle - Our oceans, coral, marine species, fish and fishing, shark finning, global warming and climate change

The World's oceans cover over 70% of the planet and are essential to us. They produce 80% of our oxygen and absorb about half the CO2 we release by burning fossil fuels. Microbes, astonishingly, account for more than 90% of ocean biomass and these are largely responsible for carbon uptake. The oceans provide us with food, moderate our climate and are home to the largest animal that has ever lived on earth, the Blue Whale. Around 90% of international trade is carried by ocean-going ships.

There may be as many as 125,000 marine species in our oceans (probably millions); over 10,000 new ones are discovered annually. There are over 15,000 species of marine fish that provide the principal source of protein for more than a billion people. Despite its obvious value, the global fishing fleet has been taking 2½ times more fish than the oceans can sustainably produce. It is not surprising, then, that three quarters of commercially targeted species are at risk and many stocks are now in grave danger. UK stocks may have been depleted by as much as 94%. The issue here is not local fishermen in small boats catching fish to feed themselves and their families, it is massive, industrial, distant water fishing fleets composed of large freeze-trawlers, 140 metres in length, capable of taking 3-5,000 tons of fish from the oceans each month - without limitations. Use our Fish Buying Guide to know which species to buy and which to avoid - positive action to help preserve global fish populations.


A Few Issues

OUR OCEANS - A FEW ISSUES

CLIMATE CHANGE is recognized as today's most significant environmental issue, appearing in the media almost every day. However, the full impact of climate change on the World's oceans may not be fully acknowledged or understood. Changes to this complex and delicate system result in the death of cetaceans, coral bleaching and loss of cold water species caused by rising temperatures. See our articles on climate change and its effects on our oceans.

OCEAN ACIDITY is also caused by carbon emissions. The oceans contain about 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere; research into the long term effects on marine ecosystems is urgently needed. Coral and other marine creatures that build shells are at risk as increased acidity reduces the carbonate ions available to them. Rising acidity causes coral skeletons to weaken and dissolve.

FISHING METHODS have evolved greatly to target specific species and sizes of fish and to reduce by-catch. Fishing regulations still have a long way to go and need to be based upon sound research and local knowledge. The establishment of marine sanctuaries around the UK is one excellent example of sound practice that can do much to make fishing more sustainable. On the down side, dynamite fishing still goes on in many parts of the World; the damage to these delicate, complex ecosystems is totally disproportionate to the size of catch. See our Fish Buying Guide.


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DIVER DAMAGE is a significant threat to coral reefs in some of the most plentiful seas. While some is accidental and due to poor practices, more is deliberate or caused by thoughtlessness. There is seldom any need for divers to touch the coral and it is important to educate all divers about the effects of their interactions with marine life starting from their first marine encounters.

SHARK FINNING. A bowl of shark fin soup can cost $100 (US) making the fins the most valuable part of the shark. Millions of sharks are killed every year, just for their fins. Many have their fins cut off and are then thrown overboard to die in agony. The rising demand for shark fin soup is driving many species towards extinction. See our articles - An Introduction to Sharks and Diving with Sharks.


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