"It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist: the threat is rather to life itself." -Rachel Carson
It seems appropriate to begin today's post with a quote from Rachel Carson, in this 50th year anniversary of Silent Spring, as she captured the majesty, awe, wonder that is associated with the ocean. Tomorrow is World Oceans Day, focused on the theme of youth, "the next wave". Not only is that cause for reflection and celebration, but just last Friday, President Obama proclaimed this month to be National Oceans Month!
And this was not just some offhand nod; he struck at the core of the issue - that the marine environment is integral to every aspect of life on this plant. He stated, "our oceans help feed our Nation, fuel our economic engine, give mobility to our Armed Forces, and provide a place for rest and recreation. Healthy oceans, coasts, and waterways are among our most valuable resources -- driving growth, creating jobs, and supporting businesses across America."
While this seem like political banter, making a plug for economic growth (well, it is), this connection of healthy oceans, coasts, and waterways to people's livelihood's and health is very much true. And for anyone born or raised by the water (as both Obama and I were), I think it's hard to imagine an existence without it. And, in fact, everyone is connected to the oceans through the perpetual recycling of water in the hydrological cycle.
Fish also serve as the main protein source for over 1 billion people and make significant contributions to global food security and coastal livelihoods. (Garcia & Rosenberg 2010 is a really good overview). I've discussed the Aral Sea, where the collapse of the fishing industry ultimately led to the abandonment of the surrounding communities and the loss of a culture and way of life. And I've discussed how seafood choices in a developed country context impact the environment.
But oceans, fisheries, and the marine environment are a global, universal people problem. Poor and rich alike eat fish. Poor and rich alike are affected by the health of marine systems. And with over 1/3 of humanity living within 100km of an oceanic coast, our oceans need attention.
Read past posts about marine issues.