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Human beings have taken a lot of time to realize the need for ocean conservation to the extent that the ocean has succumbed to ecological challenges that have affected their lives in a variety of ways. Covering vast areas of the earth’s surface, the world oceans have a vital role in influencing both the terrestrial and otherworldly climates.
The limited accessibility of the oceans due to their vastness has left human beings with inadequate knowledge about their uniqueness. As a result, people undertake marine activities with less concern about the consequences of their actions. Industrialization, tourism, fishing, and shipping, among other human activities, have led to detrimental effects such as pollution, acidification, and overfishing.
These effects have threatened ocean life and created general ocean imbalance. All over the world, governments, private institutions, and non-governmental organizations have to advocate the protection of the ocean against destructive human practices that gradually deprive the ocean of its ambient nature. This essay explores pollution and overfishing as global issues that have led to devastation and depletion of ocean resources. It proves that pollution and overfishing are a threat to world oceans. It also suggests possible ocean management strategies to curb such a crisis.
Ocean pollution has become a debatable issue that has led to the promotion of sound ocean management by both governmental and non-governmental organizations around the world. Human society produces massive amounts of unwanted materials that find their way into the oceans once they are carelessly handled. Industrialization, tourism, agricultural activities, and shipping, among other activities, have significantly contributed to ocean pollution (McKibben 207). Industrialization is one of the major sources of ocean pollutants.
The author attests that inconsiderate discarding of plastic materials, industrial effluents, and solid wastes has considerably added to the contamination ocean. Use of chemicals for farming activities has led to contamination of rivers that eventually convey agronomic nutrients and untreated effluents to the oceans. These nutrients promote the growth of algae in the ocean. Algae produce algal toxins that kill fish due to intoxication (Johnson and White 60; Jenssen 198).
Furthermore, uncontrolled usage of landfills and careless dumping of industrial waste along riverbanks increases the rate of ocean pollution, a situation that increases the amount of marine debris. Tourist activities lead to increased disposal of plastic materials and other wastes on beaches. The action of tides and waves washes these wastes into the ocean, hence elevating the number of foreign materials. The overall effect of pollution leads to the poisoning of the ocean’s biodiversity.
Furthermore, Wafar, Venkataraman, Ingole, Khan, and LokaBharathi reveal that increased production of chemical-based products and components that are available in electronic goods (viz. computers, televisions, and radios), rubber shoe soles, synthetic flooring materials, clothing, and paper among other goods (6). The authors reveal that Europe alone produces about 10-percent out of an approximated number of 100,000 chemicals worldwide. Researchers claim that 3-percent of the chemicals produced in Europe are potential toxins if exposed to the environment (Wafar et al. 7).
According to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the chemicals released to the oceans through improper disposal may change their chemical composition to form increasingly lethal substances that intoxicate flora and fauna (Roberts 27). The author reveals that inconsiderate disposal of chemical-based elements exposes the ocean to persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These pollutants are toxic and non-degradable (Roberts, 28). They clog onto the tissues and organs, thus leading to intoxication and deaths of sea animals and plants.
Moreover, ship accidents cause oil spills that have severe economic and ecological implications. The marine ecosystem is self-regulating and constantly fluctuating by its complexity. Any alien influence such as oil spills that can lead to ecosystem imbalance leads to death, reduced reproduction, and migration of fish. Oil changes the chemical composition of the ambient ecosystems, a situation that results in smothering of the oceans’ biodiversity. Also, oils consist of toxic substances that poison ocean animals and plants. Deaths of animals and plants provide a suitable medium for the growth of algae.
The ocean is the habitat of hundreds of fish species, most of which comprise human food. However, Hutchings, Côté, Dodson, Fleming, Jennings, Mantua, Peterman, Riddell, and Weaver reveal that the fisheries industry has succumbed to unsustainability due to illegal and unregulated fishing (225). Brunch reveals that the ocean loses over 85 million tons of fish to fishing to supply human society with rich protein meat (2). There is lessened control of overfishing activities because of inadequate incentives to facilitate ecosystem monitoring and surveillance.
Additionally, the author emphasizes that unwillingness to accept short-range expenses blinds the concerned management bodies from seeing the long-standing benefits that come with effective fish ecosystem management. Overfishing is highly disruptive to the ecosystems’ food chain (Branch 3). A research carried by the State of World Fisheries and aquaculture (SOFIA) indicated that 86-percent of the ocean population is either overexploited or recuperating from overexploitation (Hutchings et al. 226).
The authors predict that the exploitation percentage will rise to about 90-percent if unsustainable fishing methods continue in the next two decades. A separate study by Beaugrand, Rombouts, and Kirby in 2007 to determine the level of fish depletion revealed that 28-percent of the world’s commercial fisheries have collapsed because of overfishing and habitat contamination (441).
Whales and Whaling
Whales are social marine animals that exhibit a variety of social and communication behaviors that depend on the whale species. Whaling is a marine activity that involves hunting of whales for meat, oils, and blubber, whether for domestic or commercial purposes. Seemingly, commercialization of whaling that has led to killings of thousands of whales per year has become an international debate over the whaling practices (Blok 43). Close to four decades ago, the then few numbers of whales nearly reached extinction.
This situation led to the establishment of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that banned whale hunting for business purposes (Wesolowski 102). Despite the ban of whaling, some countries such as Japan, Norway, and Iceland still practice marine activity. According to Blok, these countries have continued to commercialize whaling regardless of the lessening demand for whale products (51).
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The author reveals that the three countries terminate the lives of over two-thousand whales annually. Wesolowski links the continuation of illegal commercialization of whaling products to the special authorization to kill whales for scientific purposes. This form of licensing has created loopholes that have led the killing of increasingly higher numbers of whales.
Possible Strategies for Future Ocean Management
Pollution has become a scary crisis for ocean management that demands immediate resolution. The devastating effects that come with the disposal of contaminants in the ocean have significantly put the life of marine biodiversity at great risk of poisoning, death, and even extinction (McKibben 258). The international conventions should implement policies that govern producer-responsibility for using plastic packaging materials.
Regional and international governmental and non-governmental agencies should foster advocacy for eradication of non-degradable packaging materials, especially dangerous plastics that can react with other ocean contaminants to produce toxins. Although numerous non-governmental organizations have addressed the issue of pollution and derived various methods of reducing ocean contamination, there is a need for empowerment of world communities, especially the ones that depend on marine activities for economic purposes in an attempt to change their attitudes towards ocean use (McKibben 341)
Furthermore, the rate of depletion of ocean resources has compelled governmental and non-governmental organizations to advocate better ocean management strategies. They have made major attempts to address the issue and raise awareness on the importance of effective ocean management practices to save the ocean biodiversity that forms a rich source of food for the human society.
However, ocean political matters have greatly affected the implementation of globally accepted marine management laws. The need for sound management has become inevitable. Therefore, proper management strategies should aim at balancing a socio-economic, ecological, and scientific interest in the use of ocean resources. Marine activities should take into account objective aspects such as controlled fishing practices and ecosystem sustainability (Sesini 12).
Also, regional and international government agencies should work together with non-governmental organizations to establish conventional regulations and procedures for sustainable marine practices. Beaugrand, Rombouts, and Kirby reveal that some countries in Europe have embraced strict regulations and fishing techniques that align with Europe’s obligation for protection and preservation of the marine habitats (445). Although not all countries abide by the standards for sustainable marine activities, the authors reveal an increasing adherence to international agreements on the protection and preservation of marine environments.
For instance, the London Convention controls the dumping of industrial effluents and other wastes in rivers and oceans. Wafar et al. suggest three important areas that demand more focus than ever to ensure ocean sustainability (9). The authors explain that the combination of a well-structured risk management reform, establishment of marine protected areas, and certification of marine incentives will develop into sustainable marine practices. Also, the conventions should define clear utilization of market strategies to improve ecological and economic sustainability (McKibben 337).
The overall health of the various oceans is at risk due to the persistent and uncontrolled human activities that have led to the depletion of resources from day-to-day. The size of plastic trash that enters the ocean heightens every year due to increased production in the industrial sites and packaging of fast goods, especially food materials.
Ocean acidification and increasing marine debris have also challenged the ocean environment. Researchers have suggested that further elevation of these forms of pollution will lead to increased destruction of ocean life by approximately 10 percent in the next decade. In reality, such an increase will tremendously affect the socio-economic sectors of many countries around the globe, owing to the elevated reliance on ocean resources. Overfishing has claimed huge numbers of fish from the ocean.
This situation has endangered some of the fish species since fish harvesting has exceeded their reproduction rates. Therefore, the development of a sustainable ocean ecosystem remains a crucial step that governmental and non-governmental agencies should prioritize with a view of advocating the protection and preservation of marine resources. There is an escalating need for formulation and implementation of dependable regional and international policies to control overfishing and ocean pollution.
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