A Fish’s Tale:
Oceans and seas cover approximately 70% of the surface of our planet. They are simply essential to our survival. They provide food, livelihood and revenues for billion of people, but above all they are the key to sustaining life on Earth. The tiny equilibrium on which everything relies on depends on Mother Ocean.
However, instead of recognizing its vital importance in the life cycle, human beings tend to destroy our precious marine resources rather than protect it an cherish it. For centuries, humans have considered oceans as an inexhaustible source of food, energy, transportation route, dumping and military tests ground.
Nowadays, progress in science has demonstrated the fragility of marine ecosystems and the bad health of our oceans. This is not only a threat for billion of innocent marine species, ocean’s degradation will have a strong negative impact on our lives if nothing is done before it is too late…
Why is it so hard to understand that if we do not change our relationships to the oceans, we are all going to pay the cost of our recklessness? Why are we always so long to act? Why are we so negligent in our everyday life? How cannot the majority of the population ignore the warnings of the scientific community?
Many researches have suggested that if we are so disrespectful it is because of what we called the “Environmentalist’s Paradox”. In 2005, a study made by the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment found that depletion of marine resources have very often been accompanied by gain in human well being globally. For decades we have benefited so much from oceans that we have neglected the consequences of our impact on it.
Nevertheless, recent researches and environmentalists have argued that ocean’s degradation will inevitably lead to declines in the well being of humans if we do not act to repair our mistakes, now.
Imagine that all fishes have disappeared from the Earth’s surface by 2048? This is not a joke. A recent study published by a Canadian Organization revealed that more than 90% of ocean’s big fish have been fished out and about 75% of the major global fisheries have been overexploited or already depleted. With the advent of Capitalism, fishes and other marine species have become goods, with a specific value and a price. Fishing has become a source of revenue rather than a means of livelihood. Combined with the rapid discoveries in modern technologies, human have begun to favour overfishing rather than subsistence fishing looking for higher profits.
Just to give you some numbers, while in 1950 the world’s fish production was about 20 million tonnes, it reached 150 million tonnes in 2011!
Rapid depletion of oceans’ resources will have a negative impact on millions of people’s lives if nothing is done now. Today, according to a study made by the UN, more than one billion people are dependent on fish as their primary source of protein. If we do not act to protect ocean’s biodiversity, these people will loose access to their main source of nutrition. It will inevitably lead to famines, civil wars and will cost much more…
We are more than ever on Earth and coastal areas have become our favourite place to live. According to the UN, about 60% of the world’s population live by the sea. Around the planet, coastlines have been destroyed to give birth to cities and tourism hubs. Beaches, estuaries, marshes and swamps have been destroyed and replaced by modern infrastructures. However, these areas are essential for millions of species. By modifying these marine habitats we contribute to harm the fragile ecosystem, which inhabited the area. Urbanization is always accompanied by activities that have devastating consequences on oceans. Deforestation to build massive towns leads to erosion and sends silt into waters that can block sunlight, essential to many species such as corals. Agriculture and industries reject toxic products and chemicals into the oceans. Tourism attracts every year billion of people that directly or indirectly destroy marine habitats due to leisure activities. Globalization and technology progresses have transformed oceans into huge highways for tankers, container ships and cruise ship, which reject oil and other chemicals, destroy complete areas with anchor and turbines.
One of the major element affecting oceans today, is global warming caused by human impact. Carbon dioxide emissions have never been so high. Oceans temperature has risen by about 0.1 °C. However, marine organisms, especially corals, are very sensitive to water temperature changes. It disrupts the life cycle of thousands of species such as penguins and seals.
Moreover, as waters heats up it expands and inevitably leads to oceans level rise. In the short run if nothing I done, it will lead to inundation of coastal areas and exposed areas. Scientists argue that we are already observing some effects of global warming with stronger and more frequent storms. Warmer waters mean easier and quicker evaporation. These storms hurt both human structures but also forests and marine ecosystems, which in turn reinforce the phenomena…
Over the past hundred years, human activities have dangerously contaminated oceans with tonnes of toxic materials including pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, chemicals, oil, plastic… They hurt marine ecosystems and fish species that consume it.
Discarded fishing nets also kill many mammals and big fish every year. The Environmental Research made by oceanographer and chemist Charles Moore, found that more that 44% of seabirds eat plastic and that plastic materials rejected in oceans affected 265 species of fish and mammals. Indirectly, these plastic products, if not consumed, are diluted into oceans and contribute to change their chemical composition. It affect marine wildlife but also humans who consume it.