Jean-Luc Solandt: The oceans may have already passed breaking point

Share
Related Topics

Our oceans are complex systems, about as well (mis)understood as the human brain. A census of marine life was published last year, and, although extremely insightful, only covered a small percentage of the ocean’s biosphere. In many ways, this led us to realize just how much we don’t know.

And there are huge uncertainties over the impact of human actions on a global scale. But an enormous population increase in the past century, coupled with the seriously advanced mechanisation and access to the oceans means one thing: pressure on resources. Society and science are always on catch-up in, firstly, understanding our impacts on ocean systems, and then in doing something about them.

The IPSO report points out that “The main causes of extinctions of marine species to date are overexploitation and habitat loss” and that climate change-related stressors are now taking their toll. While action is needed to reign in our impacts on climate, this fact must not be taken as a signal that we might as well reduce our attempts to address the more direct environmental harm; those which may be possible to directly address must be tackled.

Taking one thread, the report highlights the need to carry out assessments of seabed trawling activities and to assess the impacts of trawling on vulnerable deep sea habitats. Solutions can be adopted by nation states, and, with investment in satellite technology and good ocean governance, technological tools can be employed to monitor progress and reverse harm. We can upscale what has been done in the Isle of Man, where the fishing industry has decided, with the input of fisheries scientists, to adopt marine protected areas – areas where the sea is left alone to regenerate brood stock, to allow the spill-over of adjacent areas.

For all of the points raised in the report, this isn’t a question of ‘conservation for conservation’s sake’, but a fundamental necessity for the continued provision of vital life support for the population, of human and other living beings, that inhabit our ‘blue planet’. The oceans may have already passed breaking point; if that’s the case, we would never know – with scientific precision – until it is too late.

The report, however, cites the need to adopt precaution when information isn’t available. This idea is not new, but we need to adopt this ‘precautionary approach’ because, while we’ve already degraded vast tracts of seabed to a plough-cleared field, we cant afford still to ask later ‘what are the likely impacts’ – for the all the pollution, overfishing and biodiversity threats raised by the report.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt is a biodiversity policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society www.mcsuk.org

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Secondary supply teachers required in Newmarket

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh  

Scottish independence: Forget Yes and No — what about a United Kingdom of Independent States?

Ben Judah
Francois Hollande at the Paris summit on Iraq with ministers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on 15 September  

What's going to happen in Syria and Iraq? A guide to the new anti-Isis coalition's global strategy

Jonathan Russell
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week