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How many species can we get away with losing?


Dr Peter Bridgwater, Chair of the Government Advisory Committee on Conservation, interviewed by reporter Oliver Steeds for the Channel 4 Dispatches TV programme "Conservation's Dirty Secrets", asks the provocative question which to me really shows the full extent of the issues our ocean planet are facing and how we are dealing with them: "How many species can we get away with losing?". Well the answer is simple to me: We can't get away with losing any species!

The controversial TV programme "Conservation's Dirty Secrets" broadcasted on UK television on Monday 22nd June investigates the conservation movement and its major organizations.

As a diver the highlight of this programme was for me Oliver Steeds' trip to the Caribbean Island of Utila where he interviewed a Marine Biologist struggling to save local coral reefs.

"Oceans covers 71% of the world surface yet just 1% are protected zones and they account for a small fraction of global conservation spending. We don't have a very clear idea of what the state of the oceans is, primarily due to the lack of funding and interest in marine conservation issues", says the Marine Biologist.

Steeds questions why it is so difficult to get funding for marine research. "Many aspects of marine science are not really considered to be sexy. Fish are victims of the fact we see them cold, slimy, and unappealing. The general lack of emotional connection with the ocean also contributes to the lack of interest in marine conservation" he comments.

But if scientific information about the state of our oceans is lacking, their decline is all too obvious. Pollution, over-fishing and ocean acidification all contribute to the silent collapse of our oceans.

Even though the Channel 4 UK TV programme "Dispatches: Conservation's Dirty Secret" is very controversial and shows only one side of the story (the negative side that is), I think it is a good watch. To me the most important point to remember from this programme is that conservation works best at a local level. "Local people are integral to the conservation of a species or ecosystem. People need to see the benefits of living along side nature so that they are willing to play a part in protecting it. Involving local communities every step of the way has to be at the heart of conservation" commented one of the programme viewers and I can't agree more. If we all take action locally, we can make a difference!

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