A first systematic analysis has revealed has noted that damaging impacts of humanity have impacted about 87% of the world’s oceans. There is virtually no ocean that remains that is able to harbour naturally high levels of marine wildlife except for some of the remotest areas of the Pacific Ocean and the poles.
the researchers found that the oceans are getting degraded by climate change and pollution getting into the sea from the land, huge fleets of fishing vessels and global shipping. Further, existing marine protection areas covers only about 5% of the remaining ocean wilderness.
“We were astonished by just how little marine wilderness remains,” says Kendall Jones, at the University of Queensland, Australia, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, who led the new research. “The ocean is immense, covering over 70% of our planet, but we’ve managed to significantly impact almost all of this vast ecosystem.”
The vibrance of ocean life before the dominance of the planet by human activity was shown by the last remnants of wilderness, Jones said. “They act as time machines,” he said. “They are home to unparalleled levels of marine biodiversity and some of the last places on Earth you find large populations of apex predators like sharks.”
High seas account for much of the wilderness where countries do not have the jurisdiction to create protected areas. There is urgent need for a high seas conservation treaty say the scientists, negotiations for the same are slated to begin this September under the UN Law of the Sea convention. There is also need to cut the $4 billion yearly government subsidies that are spent on the high seas, they also said. “Most fishing on the high seas would actually be unprofitable if it weren’t for big subsidies,” Jones said.
There scientists have also earlier warned about the threat to oceans. Oceans are suffocating, scientists warned in January. They said that huge dead zones have quadrupled since 1950. Another study in February revealed that fishing is now carried out in about half of the world’s oceans. “Oceans are under threat now as never before in human history,” said Sir David Attenborough.
Oceans are classified as wilderness if there is not more than 10% of human impacts by the study that was published in the journal Current Biology.
There is very little protection of such areas because most are on the high seas. “This means the vast majority of marine wilderness could be lost at any time, as improvements in technology allow us to fish deeper and ship farther than ever before,” Jones said.
Jones said: “Beyond just valuing nature for nature’s sake, having these large intact seascapes that function in a way that they always have done is really important for the Earth. They maintain the ecological processes that are how the climate and Earth system function – [without them] you can start seeing big knock-on effects with drastic and unforeseen consequences.”
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)