Turning the Tide: Can Ocean Destruction Be Reversed?
Advocacy The world’s oceans are in trouble. Yet we can restore the health of our oceans with better management and immediate action.
Our oceans cover 71 percent of the globe. They are home to most of the life on our planet and are essential to regulating our earth’s natural systems. They are also vital to our well-being and sustenance, and providing income and food to hundred and millions of people across the globe. Healthy oceans sustain, nourish and inspire us.
Unfortunately, overfishing and poor management practices have altered or destroyed marine ecosystems and driven many species to the brink of extinction. Scientists report that the annual catch of ocean fish peaked in the 1980s and has declined each year since.
Researchers estimate that sea creatures weighing a total of two billion pounds are captured, killed and discarded every year. This by-catch includes vulnerable marine animals like dolphins, whales, sharks and sea turtles. Destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling destroy underwater habitat, further jeopardizing ocean creatures.
Turning the tide
The good news is that if we act now, we can reverse ocean destruction and save marine life. By focusing on three goals we can have a profound impact: avoid overfishing by setting science based catch limits, minimize by-catch and protect habitat. These are achievable goals, especially when tackled country by country.
"Sea creatures weighing a total of two billion pounds are captured, killed and discarded every year."
Twenty-nine countries and the European Union produce and control 90 percent of the world's wild seafood. By putting in place responsible fisheries management in these places first, we can have a huge impact in allowing fish stocks to recover.
Individuals can have an impact in protecting our oceans and marine life, too. You can make educated seafood choices by carrying a sustainable seafood guide in order to avoid eating overfished species. Instead of eating from the top of the food chain and consuming predator fish like tuna and salmon, opt for smaller “forage” species, which can make for more sustainable, affordable and abundant selections.
Most importantly, start to speak up on behalf of the oceans. Vote for responsible ocean policy, contact your local representatives, and help spread the world about ocean conservation. Together, we can we can turn the tide for the health and abundance of our oceans to ensure their health, productivity and beauty for generations to come.