A Partnership to Rescue Our Oceans

Nature reports on a new international initiative to rescue our oceans from disaster. The Global Partnership for Oceans is a co-operative effort being led by the World Bank. The partnership was announced by bank president Robert Zoellick at a summit meeting in Singapore, and is intended to coordinate marine conservation efforts between countries, private companies and international organizations.

That the World Bank is behind this new partnership actually makes a lot of sense. The oceans are truly international, and a major economic concern for a number of powerful countries. While a prevailing belief up to at least the middle of the twentieth century held that the ocean was too vast to be harmed by human activities, everything from decreased fishing stocks, to high levels of plastic waste, ocean acidification, and multiple species loss have shown this is not the case.

“The world’s oceans are in danger, and the enormity of the challenge is bigger than one country or organization.  We need coordinated global action to restore our oceans to health.  Together we’ll build on the excellent work already being done to address the threats to oceans, identify workable solutions, and scale them up,” Zoellick said in his keynote speech. Hopefully, making reference to both economic growth and ecological health should draw government, environmental advocates and private interests equally to the cause.

According to the press release, the world’s oceans provide some 15 percent of the world’s human-consumed protein. Helping fishing stocks to recover is therefore critical to many countries from an economic and, indeed, a human rights standpoint.

Though not mentioned, it’s also worth noting how significant ocean pollution can be for human health. Marine food chains provide a good example of the phenomenon called biomagnification, wherein toxins in the water become more concentrated as they are carried up by predators. Zooplankton are consumed by small fish, which are in turn consumed by larger fish and eventually us.

Toxins can include mercury and other heavy metals, synthetic chemicals and even tiny pieces of plastic. With the oceans being such a major protein source for the world, the importance of keeping that protein source safe for human consumption can hardly be overestimated.

Everything from industrial run-off to consumer waste at the individual level finds its way into the ocean, and since it’s basically a shared pond, it’s necessary that every country adhere to binding protocols.

The above video provides a nice summary of issues and goals for the partnership. One figure notes that about twelve percent of the world’s land area is protected, while less than two percent of the ocean is. One goal noted in the press release is to increase the protected area of the ocean to at least five percent, though no specific deadline has been set for this yet.

Related Stories:

Ocean Life in the Balance: Will Science Overcome Politics at Rio+20 Conference?

Drowning in Plastic

Clean the Ocean, Green the Economy, UN Urges

Photo credit: Radislaw Botez via Wikimedia Commons

88 comments

Debbie House
Debbie House4 years ago

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE DECISION MAKERS IN OUR COUNTRY? MY 4 YEAR OLD NIECE KNOWS THAT HUMANS CAN'T SURVIVE WITHOUT WATER SO WHAT IS UP WITH OUR GOVERMENT EVEN CONSIDERING DRILLING FOR OIL IN OUR OCEANS? IT'S TIME FOR ALTERNATIVE GREEN ENGERGY!

Margie B.
Past Member 4 years ago

TY

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

Noted.

Lynn C.
Lynn C.4 years ago

And Shell is suing activists who are trying to stop the inevitable oil spill in the Arctic? I hope these folk have the backing of some big players because they'll need all the help they can get.

Bambi G.
Bambi G.4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Sandra D.
Sandra D.4 years ago

I guess your canadian friends need a lot of help with all of this we are in between
polluting our boreal forests and polluting our water for GREED and killing our animals for $$
WE should join together......no border line for nature.....

Anthony O'hara
Anthony O'hara4 years ago

I was appalled some years ago when sailing back to England from the Falkland Islands when the ship I was on was throwing black plastic bags of rubbish into the Atlantic ocean .

heather g.
heather g.4 years ago

Wow - Sounds very pro-active with B-I-G goals for our oceans eg

. "One goal noted in the press release is to increase the protected area of the ocean to at least five percent"

Hardly likely - especially as we watch the ocean of plastic grow larger each year.

Chris P.
Chris P.4 years ago

To start no oil drilling. Alright the artical about a bank may help save the oceans. but to be real I hope they can.

Patrick F.
Patrick f.4 years ago

If you read

http://www.care2.com/causes/new-code-for-sled-dogs-includes-how-to-shoot-them.html#comment-3263212

then please sign

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/80/help-stop-the-senseless-slaughter-of-healthy-sled-dogs-in-bc/

thank you