Attention to ocean pollution is needed

Land-based activities account for over 80 percent of marine pollution, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Most of the waste that is produced on land ends up in the world’s oceans.

Pollutants like oil, fertilizers, solid garbage, sewage and toxic chemicals are dumped into drains and rivers.

On June 8, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the day as “World Oceans Day.” He warned of the “terrible toll” human activity is taking on the environment and urged for better protection of the Earth’s water. This announcement came after thousands of activists demanded protection for the oceans.

People should do their part to keep the oceans clean because the effects are global. Residents and businesses of the Florida peninsula should especially take this suggestion to heart and care for their oceans.

In the press conference, Ban said mistreatment of the oceans is not only affecting the ecosystem but also humans.

“Vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as corals and important fisheries, are being damaged by over-exploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing practices, invasive alien species and marine pollution, especially from land-based sources,” he said.

According to Marine Resource & Fisheries Consultants, international fish trade profited $78 billion in 2005. This trade originates from developing countries, and the U.S. is one of the largest recipients of the products.

With all the pollution going into the oceans, it will be hard to sustain this amount of trade in the future.

According to the U.N., more than 75 percent of seafood species are maxed out or overexploited. Catches of nearly a third of these species have been reduced to less than 10 percent of what they once were. Ninety percent of big fish such as sharks, tuna and swordfish have already vanished, according to a 2003 study published in Nature.

Effective resource management is critical to ensure the wildlife species are not being overexploited.

Extinct and endangered species affect the ecosystem in a number of ways. If a fish once relied on a now-extinct species for food, it will have to find another to survive. Otherwise, it too will become endangered and extinct.

According to CNN, over 11 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide are being absorbed by the oceans each year. This isn’t just affecting animals. Coral reefs, which some scientists see as the nurseries of the sea, will begin to dissolve.

David Freestone, a professor at George Washington University Law School, said to the U.N., global warming is compromising “the ability of the oceans to digest carbon and to process it in the way that it has done traditionally. The high seas are 50 percent of the surface of the planet and they constitute about 30 percent of the carbon processing that takes place.”

More restrictive fishing quotas need to be put in place for the ocean to recover. Ted Danson, a founding board member of Oceana, proposed a solution to the problem in an article he wrote for CNN.

“By protecting important habitats like corals from destructive fishing techniques, and setting science-based quotas on seafood species, the battle is halfway won,” he said.

In Ban’s words, it is “our individual and collective duty to protect the marine environment and carefully manage its resources.”

Xhenis Berberi is a senior majoring in political science and economics.