ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Observations

Observations


Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American
Observations HomeAboutContact

Oceans Likened to World’s Biggest Failed State

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Email   PrintPrint



Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Overfishing and pollution have pushed life in the high seas to the brink of collapse, according to a new report from the Global Ocean Commission. “The oceans are a failed state,” David Miliband, co-chair of the commission, told Reuters. The commission has implored governments to set a five-year deadline to deal with threats to the health of the high seas, which are marine waters outside national coastal zones; these seas cover almost half the globe.

Fishermen catch around ten million tons of fish from the high seas every year, with a value of $16 billion dollars. It’s a vast ocean of resources only recently made accessible by advances in fishing technology. The report warns that a combination of technology and big fuel subsidies have enabled industrial fishing fleets to heavily exploit 87% of the fish species there. Eighteen countries hand out billions of dollars in subsidies; the United States bestows fleets with $137 million for a catch worth $368 million.

Pollution, largely from plastics, also endangers ocean health. The abundance of plastics in the marine environment has risen tenfold every decade in some locations, and poses a hazard to sea life when they eat it or get entangled in it. Habitat destruction, climate change, ocean acidification, and biodiversity loss also pose a danger to ocean ecosystems.

The commission has said that if governments can’t clamp down on these threats soon then it may be necessary to ban industrial fishing in parts of the ocean. Many countries have already established marine reserves and imposed off-limits zones to industrial fishing, although these areas are not always well protected.

The commission’s urgent call to action comes a week after President Obama announced his plans to create the world’s largest marine protected area in the south-central Pacific Ocean.





Rights & Permissions

Comments 8 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. RussOcean 11:43 am 06/25/2014

    A great sea battle is taking place in the oceans. Nations are using Privateers once again to fly their flags, destroy the competition, and to the victor go the spoils. These privateers are the highly subsidized fishing fleets which receive $27 billion every year is subsidies.

    For a tiny fraction of that subsidy expense nations could sponsor restoration of the dying ocean pastures and bring back the fish almost everywhere. We’ve proven this works in our 2012 ocean pasture restoration project in the NE Pacific.

    Last year the largest catch of salmon in Alaskan history swam from our revived ocean salmon pasture into the nets of fishermen and onto the plates of hungry American kids.

    Here’s a link to ready more…http://russgeorge.net/2014/06/25/world-fights-last-great-sea-battle-fishing-privateers/

    Bring back the fish!

    Link to this
  2. 2. drafter 1:10 pm 06/25/2014

    Its my understanding that one of the big reasons for the Somali pirates is because other nations are over fishing their shores and pirating those vessels is their only method of getting international attention to this issue. Unfortunately the Media rarely addresses the cause and focuses on violences since if it bleeds it leads all else they’ll ignore.

    Link to this
  3. 3. OYoulp9536 4:14 pm 06/25/2014

    my co-worker’s step-mother makes 84 dollar every hour on the laptop . She has been unemployed for seven months but last month her pay was 13417 dollar just working on the laptop for a few hours.

    browse around this web-site>>>>>>C­­­­­­A­­­­­S­­­H­­­2­­­9.CO­­­M­­­

    Link to this
  4. 4. Wayne Williamson 5:32 pm 06/26/2014

    This article likens the oceans to a failed state which I think is just plain wrong. The oceans are carved up by which country “claims” ownership. So the oceans are really like hundreds of countries. Many of those countries are trying to undo past over fishing/depletion which seems to be working, and there are some that just don’t care and want it all.

    Link to this
  5. 5. davidonewell 7:49 pm 06/27/2014

    I think that soon we’ll be fussing over the liklihood of a “failed planet”.
    Every political subdivision is an imaginary line:
    the globe we live is NOT an artificial boundry, and contains everything we value: all history, all art, all civilization: all Life.
    As Einstein stated (approx.), “Everything has changed save our mode of thinking, and thus we drift towards unmitigated catastrophe..”

    http://WWW.EarthThrive.Net

    Link to this
  6. 6. vertland@aol.com 4:52 pm 06/30/2014

    Humanity is due to grow by another two billion by mid century, so with demand for the products of the our oceans going up by 35% I do not see this situation getting any but worse.

    Link to this
  7. 7. vertland@aol.com 4:53 pm 06/30/2014

    Humanity is due to grow by another two billion by mid century, so with demand for the products of the our oceans going up by 35%, this situation is only going to get worse.

    Link to this
  8. 8. ydderf 8:23 am 07/1/2014

    as a person who grew up in Boston I fished the Boston Harbor since 1960. At that time the Harbor produced the greatest flounder fishing in the world. By 1970 you couldn’t catch a fish that didn’t have sores and fin rot and after rain storms the harbor was brown for several days with untreated sewage. This changed when the Deer Island sewer plant was put on line around 2000. You can see down in the water 15 to 20 ft. in places that the water was so turbid you couldn’t see down 2.5 ft. Even the Charles River is now a B rating. The discharge from the plant is released 9 miles out to sea and is thoroughly cleaned of solids and disinfected. Now the resurgence of fish is incredible. All are healthy and catching the limit of fish can be done in a couple of hours. With fore sight Mankind can do the right thing.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American