Here are 5 of the biggest threats to our oceans, and how we can solve them

Oceans Threats UN 2018_

FAO/Sia Kambou Fishermen offloading tunas at the industrial fish port of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas McCauley, Assistant Professor, Department Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara

Oceans cover 70% of the earth’s surface. For a healthy planet, we need healthy oceans. Yet they are under threat. Here are five of the biggest challenges our oceans face, and what we can do to solve them.

1. Climate change

Climate change arguably presents the greatest threat to ocean health. It is making oceans hotter, promoting acidification, and making it harder to breathe in them by reducing dissolved oxygen levels. Imagine how poorly a fish in an aquarium would fare if we turned up the heat, dripped in acid, and pulled out the oxygen bubbler. This is slowly but surely what we are doing to our oceans.

Bleached coral near Heron Island, Australia

Bleached coral near Heron Island, Australia
Image: The Ocean Agency/ XL Catlin Seaview Survey

We can each reduce our own carbon footprint and help decelerate climate change by making smart choices about what we eat and how we travel. The carbon cost of a steak and shrimp dinner, for example, can be greater than driving in a low-emission car from Los Angeles to New York. With 7.6 billion people on the planet, these decisions add up. In our businesses, we can join companies such as Salesforce, Google, and Lyft in going carbon neutral.

2. Plastic pollution

More than five trillion pieces of plastic pollution are afloat in the oceans. And the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing. For every pound of tuna we are taking out out of the ocean, we are putting two pounds of plastic back in. Bold interventions to reduce plastic pollution are urgently needed.

Image: Chris Jordan

We can all help by refusing single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery, and food containers. These are in our lives for seconds, but can then spend centuries circulating in our oceans, causing significant damage. Individual actions should be backed by international leadership. The G7 is considering a Plastics Charter that could be a game changer in curbing the flood of plastic pollution entering our oceans.

Image: Ocean Conservancy

3. Sustainable seafood

Almost a third of global fish stocks are overfished. Fish that were once extremely abundant, such as bluefin tuna, are now becoming increasingly endangered. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing can cost the global economy up to $23 billion annually. Restaurants and seafood markets in many areas routinely serve endangered seafood species that are the underwater equivalent of a rhino or a panda.

Reef fish for sale in the Solomon Islands

Reef fish for sale in the Solomon Islands
Image: WorldFish

New apps, including Seafood Watch, can help us steer clear of these endangered species, and select sustainable and healthy seafood choices instead. Certain seafood sectors can also sustain serious human rights abuses such as child labour and slavery. Some of the same apps can help us avoid these humanitarian pitfalls.

4. Marine protected areas

We all know that parks and protected areas on land help wildlife such as bears, deer and elephants thrive. The same is true for underwater protected areas. In addition to preserving charismatic and ecologically important marine wildlife, including sharks, dolphins, and corals, protected areas in the ocean can act like a savings accounts for fisheries. Fish inside such areas grow larger and generate more offspring. These then spill beyond the boundaries of the protected area, and are harvested by fisheries as a return on their investment in the park.

We are behind the curve on setting up protected areas in the ocean. Today, only 2% of our global oceans are included in strongly protected marine parks. Scientists estimate we may need to protect 30% of the oceans to provide properly for the future of ocean wildlife and ocean health.

We need to back local, national and international efforts to set up more marine protected areas. Responsible travel also helps. The tourism industry can be both a key beneficiary and guardian of marine parks. We can reinforce these efforts by patronizing hotels that are financing marine park protection in their ocean backyards, by replanting corals and managing their footprint near these parks.

5. Fisheries subsidies

Every year, governments spend $35 billion on fisheries subsidies, the majority of which directly accelerate harmful overfishing. Subsidies lead to overcapacity in fishing fleets and allow vessels to fish harder for longer, even when it would not otherwise make economic sense. For example, a large portion of fishing on the high seas, where fish are an internationally shared resource, would likely be unprofitable without fisheries subsidies.

There is a crucial opportunity to take a firm stance on prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies at the 2019 ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization. We must urge our national leaders to reach an agreement to end subsidies, and promote a healthy future for fish and fishermen in our global oceans.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Europe, US and Russia haggle over Ukraine’s convulsing body; Russians and Americans press on for an all out civil war

The JADE Spring Meeting is about to begin

Stability in Europe has no chances because of Ukraine

Britain in and out of the EU

Assault on key Yemeni port would endanger 300,000 children and ‘choke off’ aid for millions more: UNICEF chief

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Europe – 14 June 2016

The EU learns about fishing and banking from tiny Iceland

Yanis Varoufakis in a Sting Exclusive: “Unsustainable debt turns the creditor into Leviathan; Life under it is becoming nasty, brutish and short”

Belgium: Youth Forum takes legal step to ban unpaid internships

Will Brexit shatter the EU or is it still too early to predict?

It’s EU vs. Google for real: the time is now, the case is open

China’s impact as a global investor; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

EU’s new environmental policy on biofuels impacts both the environment and the European citizen

EU’s Finance Ministers draft plan to raise tax bills of online giants like Google and Amazon

EU revengefully shows no mercy to Cameron by demanding a fast and sloppy Brexit now

Here are three technology trends changing the way you travel

FROM THE FIELD: Finding refuge in the ‘beautiful game’

If Macron defies Britain about the banks, Paris and London to clash over ‘La Manche’

A day in the life of a refugee: We should be someone who helps

“C’est la vie”? French recession and unemployment to linger in Eurozone

Draghi indirectly accuses Germany of using double standards in financial issues

Business uncertainty rises as US grants only temporary exception to EU for steel and aluminium tariffs

The European Sting at the Retail Forum for Sustainability live from Barcelona

Regional policies slowed down by EU bureaucracy

Youth unemployment: think out of the box

Why growth is now a one way road for Eurozone

IMF – World Bank meetings: US – Germany clash instituted, anti-globalization prospects visualized

EU unfolds strategy on the Egypt question

Climate change and health: an everyday solution

We have to learn to trust Artificial Intelligence. Here’s how

EU-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement sees the light as Moscow’s reaction once more looms

Eurozone to enter the winter…

Negative inflation hits Eurozone, ECB to print and distribute one trillion euro earlier than expected

Will Europe be able to deal with the migration crisis alone if Turkey quits the pact?

Trump: Hostile to Europe, voids Tillerson’s “ironclad” ally pledge

Deutsche Bank slammed by the US-based trio of IMF, Fed and Moody’s

The Commission tells Berlin it is legally obliged to help Eurozone out of stagnation

Guinea President Alpha Condé: “We must tackle the root causes of migration”

EU leaders agree on 2030 Climate and Energy Package: is “flexible” brave enough?

Access to healthcare: what do we lack?

The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union will impact young people’s future the most

European banking stress tests 2014: A more adverse approach for a shorter banking sector

“We have to do a better job of creating alternatives to violent extremism”, US Secretary of State John Kerry from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

How young entrepreneurs should be supported: what assistance should governments provide?

The EU Parliament endorses tax on financial transactions

The Parliament sets the way for the European Banking Union

This is the state of the world’s health, in numbers

Heat-resistant crops, ‘green’ infrastructure, can prepare Near East and North Africa to better tackle droughts – UN agency

Trump ‘used’ G20 to side with Putin and split climate and trade packs

Migration crisis update: The “Habsburg Empire” comes back to life while EU loses control

A young European voice on Grexit: too high a bill and too big a deal!

EU cracks under the weight of its policy on the Ukraine-Russia nub

Eurozone: Bankers-politicians rig keeps robbing taxpayers

Europe votes against GMOs but the Council votes for TTIP

EU countries invested €5 trillion abroad

Far from a healthy Health Workforce: lack of workforce planning leaves our citizens without access to proper care

The big five EU telecom operators in dire straights

The IMF sees Brexit’s ‘substantial impact’ while the world’s economy holds its breath

Minsk “ceasefire” leaves more doubts than safety, with EU already planning steps further

Rise in violent conflict shows prevention ‘more necessary than ever’: UN chief

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s