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The Oceans

The oceans are on the verge of complete collapse, a fact substantiated by multiple reports: the decrease in biodiversity due to overfishing and invasive species, the chemical threats of global warming and pollution, and destructive and increasingly efficient fishing technology - among other causes - have been found to fundamentally alter the state of the oceans in a decidedly negative manner.

The Pew Oceans Commission is a part of a highly respected U.S. based independent nonprofit trust that focuses on solving and educating the public on today's most challenging problems. The "Policy" page of the "Protecting Ocean Life" section clearly defines the current problem: "Marine life is threatened by human activity and has become more endangered than ever before. A recent study in the journal Science found that over the centuries humans have caused the depletion of 90 percent of the ocean's large predators, the elimination of 65 percent of seagrass and wetland habitat, the degradation of water quality 10- to 1,000-fold, and the acceleration of species invasions in 12 major estuaries and coastal seas around the world" (Pew).

Findings released more than a year ago in Science provide overwhelming evidence that loss in marine biodiversity, which is "directly caused by exploitation, pollution, and habitat destruction, or indirectly through climate change and related perturbations of ocean biochemistry" (Worm et al., 2006, p. 787), leads to significant overall decrease in productivity. This decrease in biodiversity and subsequent decrease in productivity, as well as the disruption of ocean currents from global pollution (Pew), directly impacts all of humanity, from those who eat and catch fish to land-locked nations without any immediate connection to the fishing industry. Boris Worm, the scientist who introduced the idea of "no fish by 2050," has been quoted as saying, "We're going to run out of viable fisheries, out of all seafood species by the year 2050" (ScienCentral, 2006). In conjunction with several others, Worm wrote the article in Science relating the devastating effect of the loss of biodiversity: "Human-dominated marine ecosystems are experiencing accelerating loss of populations and species, with largely unknown consequences. We analyzed local experiments, long-term regional time series, and global fisheries data to test how biodiversity loss affects marine ecosystem services across temporal and spatial scales. Overall, rates of resource collapse increased and recovery potential, stability, and water quality decreased exponentially with declining diversity. Restoration of biodiversity, in contrast, increased productivity fourfold and decreased variability by 21%, on average. We conclude that marine biodiversity loss is increasingly impairing the ocean's capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from perturbations. Yet available data suggest that at this point, these trends are still reversible" (Worm et al., 2006, p. 787).