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  • Daniel Kleinman

Characterizing the Issues Facing the Oceans & Their Impacts

Often, I come across new people open to hearing my "spiel" on my understanding of the state of the oceans. I underscore the urgency needed across many realms - conservation, exploration, sustainability, and more. Below, I've assembled a succinct list, with an aggregate of sources mapping out the issues facing our oceans. Before we can take on these large scale problems, we first need exposure to the information to connect people to these critical issues. In this age of information at our fingertips, we are more informed consumers, and my hope is to help apply that to our interactions with the oceans as well.


Problems:


Overfishing:

o Over 90% of fish stocks have been wiped out (1)

o Fish are often mislabeled (counterfeit/fraudulent fish - not enough supply to meet demand) (2)

o Overfishing is wiping out fish populations at unprecedented rates (3)



Plastic Pollution:

o The fishing industry is the greatest contributor to macro-plastic in the ocean – over 40% of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is from discarded fishing nets, AKA ghost nets (4)

o Plastic has infiltrated even the most remote parts of the ocean - from the Marianas Trench to the Arctic, mostly on a microscopic level as microplastics (5)(6)



Ocean Warming and Acidification - Driven by Climate Change:

o Human caused greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change that detriments ocean ecosystem health (7)




Regulation and Enforcement:

o Overfishing enforcement and regulations are struggling to keep up with the problem (8)



Impacts:


Human Health:

o Plastic is entering the food chain – biomagnification (microorganisms eating particles, and growing concentrations every step up the food chain) (9)

o Only recently were plastics detected in human waste (10)

o Other pollutants also concentrate and accumulate similarly up the food chain (mercury, radiation, etc.) (11)


Ocean Health:

o We have only explored 5-10% of the oceans (12)

o We are on pace for there to be more plastic than fish in the ocean in the next 30 years (13)




Hopefully you were already aware of many of these issues, but if not, this article shed some light on some critical issues for you to know! I don't look at these issues pessimistically, but more as a call to action for innovators and entrepreneurs alike.


You can learn more about each of these issues by following the source links below:


1. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/07/fish-stocks-are-used-up-fisheries-subsidies-must-stop/

2. https://oceana.org/sites/default/files/National_Seafood_Fraud_Testing_Results_Highlights_FINAL.pdf

3. https://wwf.panda.org/our_work/oceans/problems/unsustainable_fishing/

4. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22939-w

5. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-environment-arctic-plastic/punch-in-the-gut-as-scientists-find-micro-plastic-in-arctic-ice-idUSKCN1V41V2

6. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/05/plastic-bag-mariana-trench-pollution-science-spd/

7. https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/co2-and-ocean-acidification

8. https://wwf.panda.org/our_work/oceans/problems/fisheries_management/

9. https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/-/m/pdf/education/curriculum/aquarium-9-12-biomagnification.pdf

10. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/10/news-plastics-microplastics-human-feces/

11. https://phys.org/news/2019-09-marine-plastic-pollution-neurological-toxin.html

12. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/exploration.html

13. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/01/20/by-2050-there-will-be-more-plastic-than-fish-in-the-worlds-oceans-study-says/


Look out for another new article later this month!


- Daniel

Founder, Seaworthy Collective

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