The 71 Percent: Our Oceans Need Your Help

Beautiful ocean in Punta Cana. Photo Credit/ Amy Lukac Beautiful ocean in Punta Cana. Photo Credit/ Amy Lukac
<center>Beautiful ocean in Punta Cana. Photo Credit / Amy Lukac</center>

Beautiful ocean in Punta Cana.
Photo Credit / Amy Lukac

By Alexa Stephens
Contributing Writer

Our seas cover around 71 percent of our planet, with land covering only about 29 percent.

According to the Environmental Justice Foundation, over 3.5 billion people depend on the oceans for a primary food source, employment or income.

The oceans contain nearly 90 percent of the Earth’s living biomass.

From the glimmering surface, the ocean seems to be doing just fine. The tides roll in and out every day. Nothing seems wrong.

However, just below what seems so perfect a whole world is being destroyed.

Due to overfishing, over 75 percent of the world’s fish stocks are defined as fully exploited, over exploited or depleted, says Environmental Management Magazine.

Many marine and coastal ecosystems are extremely close to collapse.

National Geographic claims that over 90 percent of each of the World’s large ocean species including cod, halibut and swordfish have been lost since the 1950s.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, coral reefs, that occupy only about 1 percent of the Earth’s oceans, are home to 25 percent of all marine fish species. More than 80 percent of them are overfished and 58 percent are potentially threatened by human activity.

Before we know it, our oceans will be barren and lifeless.

Currently less than 1 percent of the ocean is protected by government laws, says the ocean conservancy. An area that covers 71 percent of our planet, only has 1 percent of its life protected.

More than 10 percent of land, only 29 percent of our planet, is protected by government laws.

One major factor about the ocean is a key contributor to the low percent. What we cannot see, does not affect us.

So much of our land is protected because we can see the life diminishing. We can see what the problem is first hand. Underneath the water, it’s a different story.

The oceans are the forgotten world on Earth. Many treat the ocean as an unlimited source of fish and seafood, but it is obvious that is not the case.

Overfishing is destroying species and habitats and soon there will be nothing left.

Practices like bottom trawling, in which a huge net is dragged along the sea floor collecting and removing anything in its way, is extremely detrimental to fish species.

In some areas, shark finning is also popular. In this practice, sharks are caught and their fins are cut from them.

Their bodies are thrown back into the water and the ones who are not yet dead simply float to the bottom and die.

SharkFreinds.com reveals that one hundred to two hundred million sharks are killed each year for their fins, which are used to make shark fin soup.

In addition to 90 percent of the world’s big fish disappearing from the oceans, the World Wildlife Fund confirms we have also already lost 27 percent of the world’s coral reefs. Although all this damage has been done, with a lot of help it can be reversed.

Underwater parks are marine protected areas in which species can live and reproduce without the threat of overfishing.

For more than two decades, Ocean Conservancy has been working to create these.

Supporting the conservation and protection of our oceans can one day help restore the life we have once forgot, and revive the underwater world back into the thriving community it once was.

Email Alexa at:
astephens@live.esu.edu

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