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Triple Threat Stresses Ocean Ecosystems

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Triple Threat Stresses Ocean Ecosystems

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Global changes in climate, depleted oxygen levels, and acidification threaten the health of the world’s oceans, according to a joint report by the International Program on the State of the Ocean and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Nature World News reported: “The findings, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, pointed to acidification, warming and declining oxygen levels as the ‘deadly trio’ that together are affecting the ocean’s productivity and efficiency. Should they continue unchecked, the researchers warn of ‘cascading consequences for marine biology,’ including changes in the food web and spread of pathogens.”

The current problem was expected, however.

In 2003, the Pew Oceans Commission released a report on the state of the oceans and recommended certain actions to help curtail any more damage.

Despite some headway since the 2003 report, this year the commission noted there are still challenges ahead: “Many of our ocean ecosystems have been severely compromised by decades of overfishing, habitat-damaging fishing practices, the use of indiscriminate fishing gear that captures and kills vast amounts of non-targeted ocean wildlife, and limits on forage fish that are too high to ensure adequate food for the larger ecosystem.”

“On top of that, major challenges that the commission could not see as clearly in 2003—including ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures—further threaten some of our most valuable fisheries, such as cod in New England.”

Deteriorating ocean conditions were markedly evident during a voyage by yachtsman Ivan MacFadyen. He recently wrote about his experience traveling from Melbourne, Australia, to Osaka, Japan—a route he had traversed a decade earlier. The differences between the two trips were startling.

“In 2003, I caught a fish every day,” he told Guardian Australia. “Ten years later to the day, sailing almost exactly the same course, I caught nothing. It started to strike me the closer we got to Japan that the ocean was dead.”

The newspaper continued, “MacFadyen said that the lack of ocean life started at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, describing Queensland waters as ‘barren’ and ‘unquestionably overfished’.”

But it was not just the lack of fish that startled Mr. MacFadyen. The Pacific Ocean is host to an immense amount of garbage left behind by the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011.

“The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it’s still out there, everywhere you look,” Mr. MacFadyen wrote in a column for the Newcastle Herald. 

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