Overfishing, Pollution Pushing Oceans into Ecological Collapse
December 23, 2009
By E. Huff
Many experts believe that the world’s oceans are at a crucial tipping point in which major ecological collapse is imminent. Overfishing, pollution, and general destruction of sea life is putting the oceanic system and its delicate ecosystems in dire straits.
Brian Skerry, an undersea photojournalist interviewed by a journalist from The Boston Phoenix, elaborated on what he was witnessing in the oceanic system. Decaying coral reefs, endangered species, and the massive reduction in population of certain sea creatures are among the devastating realities that has caused this diver to avoid eating seafood.
Every year, over 100 million sharks are killed. The North Atlantic right whale population, which was once a highly populous species in the region, is down to about 400. Atlantic cod is said to be about 10 percent of what it once was. Most commercial fish populations have been reduced by 90 percent or more. The Atlantic Ocean is becoming highly acidic and the Pacific Ocean is becoming a giant garbage dump. And all of these things have occurred in about 50 years.
Some scientists believe that if things don’t change and current practices continue as they are, the ocean will be barren of all sea life by 2048. Others believe this notion is drastic and unrealistic, but the point remains that the careless treatment of the world’s oceans is likely to have catastrophic results if not curtailed.
Overfishing in certain areas has led to increases in coral reef decay and death. Catching shrimp, for instance, involves dragging a net along the bottom of the ocean floor which catches all sorts of other ocean wildlife. Only a small portion of the catch is actually shrimp, leading to the dumping of the rest of the then-dead by-catch back into the ocean.
Some of the ocean damage has also been inflicted by severe hurricanes and tsunamis which are outside of man’s control. Yet there is no denying that ruthless ocean harvesting practices are causing problems that would otherwise not occur if proper ocean stewardship practices were followed.
While some suggest that international regulations should be mandated, the consequences of giving control over natural resources to an international global government would likely prove disastrous for American sovereignty. Many current regulations are actually harming the waters more than they are helping them. Incentives that encourage proper stewardship are one possible option that would preserve freedom and liberty while avoiding totalitarian restrictions over the waters.