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The Ocean

Overall, we know relatively little about our oceans, the largest and most biologically diverse environment on our planet. We do know, however, that the health of our oceans has been deteriorating for many decades. Throughout most of the 20th century the proliferation of human activities at sea, and especially in coastal waters, have had adverse effects on the marine environment. The essential services that the ocean provides to this planet’s biosphere, such as regulating atmospheric gas and nutrient cycling, are being compromised. At the same time, increasing demands are being placed on the world’s oceans to provide food, resources and services for an expanding human population.

Although the crisis of the ocean is well-established, it is not sufficiently accepted as a priority concern on the part of many governments. At a recent UNESCO-sponsored conference in Paris, held in December 2001, it was noted that “we are in a critical situation of declining trends… worldwide.” Unless oceans and coasts are given a higher priority by the world community, the outlook leaves little room for optimism.

top photo credit:
Alexandra Morton