Pacific Ecologist 20 Winter 2011
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- Mighty oceans: font of life
Life on earth first developed in the oceans which perform many vital functions to maintain life, including mediating our climate, John Chappell explains. Without the oceans there would be no rainfall, forests, or us. But human activity at many levels is changing the oceans to such an extent that scientists warn of mass extinctions with unknown ecological and evolutionary consequences. Rapid changes in all our activities affecting the oceans are essential to avoid an unprecedented situation that will be outside the capacity and timescale of humanity to remedy.
- The oceans and climate change: Unprecedented threats for marine life
The oceans are crucial in absorbing both heat and CO2 from the atmosphere as emissions continue to rise as a result of burning fossil fuels. However, this has serious consequences for our ice sheets and marine ecosystems, reports marine geologist Robert B Dunbar. Man-made fossil fuel CO2 is also causing ocean acidification and the rate of change is likely to be too fast for many marine organisms to adapt. Without education about the role of the oceans in climate change and effective policy changes, we will be unable to prevent disastrous consequences and loss of entire ecosystems is likely.
- Food security threatened by acidifying oceans
Ever rising emissions of carbon dioxide from industrial activity are changing the basic chemistry of oceans, making them more acidic. At risk is the great web of life in the oceans and the interconnected ecosystems which support the wild fisheries, shell fisheries and aquaculture which contribute to the food security of 4 billion people. Everyone needs to become aware of the consequences of acidification and co-ordinated action needs to be taken at the highest level. This article is abridged from a 2010 United Nations Environment Programme report.
- Deep seabed mining: Frontier to oblivion!
Mining the seabed is a new industrial frontier with destructive consequences for marine life, writes Dennis Small. With the oceans already showing many signs of serious damage from current industrial activity, adding to the damage by intensively mining the seabed will take us further down the road of ecological disaster.
- Industrial and military activities poisoning the oceans
Dangerous long-lasting radioactive pollution and persistent organic pollutants from military and industrial activities have been building up in the oceans since the Second World War, reports Kay Weir. Moruroa Atoll in the South Pacific is a particular concern with its very large radionuclide contamination from 21 years of underground nuclear test explosions and its potential to leach into the South Pacific Ocean. Scientists warn that the ocean depths may face dangers from long-term contamination as toxins accumulate at very high levels in algae and krill. Ongoing research and monitoring of the many stressors on the oceans is essential.
global fishing crisis
- Beyond duplicity and ignorance in global fisheries
Ever increasing industrial fishing efforts have caused a global fisheries crisis with repeated collapses of fish stocks worldwide, reports Daniel Pauly. If this continues it will lead to further depletion of biodiversity and fish resources and the transformation of marine ecosystems into dead zones. Fisheries can be sustained into the future only if fish resources are allowed to recover and rebuild and fishing efforts are reduced. Fisheries management and fisheries science must be transformed into life-affirming disciplines.
- The last pristine ocean: The Ross Sea
Dr David Ainley describes the Ross Sea in Antarctica, a rich biodiversity hotspot and perhaps the last remaining ocean on earth where top predators abound and drive the ecosystem.But industrial fishing, with New Zealand companies being major participants, threatens to destroy this unique ocean habitat and its abundant life.
- The most remote fishery on earth >
Over-fishing worldwide has driven fishers to the unique Ross Sea in Antarctica in pursuit of toothfish, a fish previously only deemed worthy by a handful of polar scientists, writes marine scientist Cassandra Brooks. Should we be fishing in Antarctica which is designated a place of peace, to be protected from exploitation?
- Pacific Island countries strive to save their tuna fisheries
Pacific Island countries, supported by Australia and New Zealand have proposed conservation measures to save their fisheries from final destruction by the world’s voracious industrial fishing fleets. An historic measure to close four pockets of waters flanking their borders, to tuna purse seine fishing was rejected by the EU and South Korea, although it’s in the interests of all fishing nations to support them. Phil Crawford reports on the continuing efforts to ensure survival of the world’s tuna fisheries.
dvd and book reviews
- Water Whisperers: Tangaroa (DVD) directed by Kathleen Gallagher
- Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis by Alanna Mitchell
- Atlas of Oceans: exploring this hidden world by John Farndon
- Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of Earth's Last Dinosaur by Carl Safina
- The End of the Line: How Over-fishing is Changing the World & What We Eat by Charles Clover
- Atlas of Oceans: exploring this hidden world by John Farndon
- Eradicating Ecocide by Polly Higgins
- Modern Day Uab (DVD) produced by SOPAC/IWRM
- The Silent Deep: The Discovery, Ecology & Conservation of the Deep Sea by Tony Koslow
saving the oceans
- Prospects for Pacific maritime security co-operation ‘of coral made’
Australian marine refugia research offers an opportunity to make Pacific regional maritime security co-operation more effective, writes Nicholas Floyd, a visiting scholar of the Lowy Institute 2009–10. With marine resources in countries in the vast bioregion of the Pacific under increasing environmental and financial stresses, Australia could help both itself and other countries by providing funding, expertise and technical support to assist its Pacific and South-East Asian neighbours prioritise conservation efforts and secure their marine areas in troubled times.
- Seagrass meadows vital for marine conservation
Seagrass meadows are often neglected in marine conservation with its high focus on coral reef protection, report Richard K F Unsworth & Leanne C Cullen-Unsworth. Yet seagrass perform many vital ecological functions and are very important fishing areas in the Indo-Pacific region. Their over-exploitation has serious consequences for coral reef conservation, due to inter-connected processes, fish migrations and nursery functions. Recent research highlights the value of seagrasses in mitigating climate change in a future Blue Carbon project. New marine conservation strategies must place seagrass meadows securely on the conservation programme.
- Restoring our contract with Nature and the Ocean Commons
Climate change, pollution and humanity’s voracious consumption of marine life is annihilating life in the oceans, reports Mike McGinnis. To restore the oceans and the life they sustain requires that we recover our contract with Nature’s Commons, establish large networks of marine protected areas and markedly reduce our consumption of marine life to a more equitable share. Making the connection between the health of the oceans and human well-being is key to ensuring ocean life continues to flourish. We must support the life-giving qualities of a living ocean planet instead of the short-term values of maximizing financial return and over-exploiting marine life.