OVERFISHING AND OTHER ISSUES
OVERFISHING By overfishing, we are destroying entire ecosystems and the food chains which are essential to keep them thriving. Not only is overfishing wiping entire species out, but it’s also having a direct impact on other species in the food web. Some of the methods used for fishing are destructive in themselves, such as bottom trawling, which destroys habitats and captures many Fish which are not even wanted, only to be tossed aside. OCEAN ACIDIFICATION The ocean absorbs up to one third of the carbon dioxide that we emit worldwide. This helps keep us cooler; unfortunately, it makes the ocean more acidic. This has a direct impact on calcifying organisms, such as Corals, oysters, sea urchins, clams, and many others. GHOST FISHING This occurs when old fishing equipment is lost (or tossed), and continues to catch or entangle Fish and other marine life. This can also trigger a chain of injuries or deaths when smaller animals get caught in abandoned nets, and larger predators in search of their prey find themselves caught in the nets, too. COMMERCIAL WHALING Blue whales are listed as endangered on the IUCN list and there is less than one percent of the original population in the Antarctic now. West Pacific grey whales are the most endangered, with only more than 100 left in the oceans. Despite strict regulations on whaling, there are still a number of countries, such as Japan and Iceland, which use loopholes to continue commercial whaling. FISH FRAMING As more people inhabit the earth, there is more demand for food, and one response is to grow as many Fish as quickly as possible, regardless of the negatives. Unfortunately, chemical pollution can easily occur, since Fish farms often rely heavily on medications and are a source of excessive nutrients from left over artificial Fish food and excrement. This can have destructive effects on natural habitats in the sea, as well as lead to accidental release of farmed Fish capable of destroying native stocks and passing on diseases. PLASTIC Between 1.15 and 2.41 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every single year. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a collection of rubbish in the Pacific Ocean, is now three times the size of France. Animals can get tangled in the huge amount of plastic which litter the ocean, and the plastic smothers and destroys Coral and sponges. Plastic bags are also often mistaken for food by sea turtles, and they either become trapped or eat the bag, clogging their digestive system. HABITAT DESTRUCTION Global warming contributes to the decline of many Coral reefs. It has resulted in Coral bleaching, a phenomenon whereby heat-stressed Corals expel their symbiotic algae. These algae are necessary to keep the Coral alive. Other things contributing to habitat destruction are coastal development, pollution (e.g., runoff or oil spills), clearing mangrove forests for shrimp production, and deep-sea trawling.