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A Partnership to Rescue Our Oceans

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.

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Read more: , , , , , , , , ,

Photo credit: Radislaw Botez via Wikimedia Commons

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88 comments

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1:51PM PDT on Apr 9, 2012

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!

10:37PM PDT on Mar 31, 2012

TY

6:25PM PDT on Mar 25, 2012

Noted.

5:18AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

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.

9:47AM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

9:07AM PST on Mar 8, 2012

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.....

12:42AM PST on Mar 8, 2012

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 .

12:20AM PST on Mar 8, 2012

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.

1:51PM PST on Mar 7, 2012

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

1:20PM PST on Mar 7, 2012

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