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Media Highlight: Overfished and under‑protected: Oceans on the brink of collapse
Posted Sunday to CNN.com:
As the human footprint has spread, the remaining wildernesses on our planet have retreated. However, dive just a few meters below the ocean surface and you will enter a world where humans very rarely venture.
In many ways, it is the forgotten world on Earth. A ridiculous thought when you consider that oceans make up 90% of the living volume of the planet and are home to more than one million species, ranging from the largest animal on the planet -- the blue whale -- to one of the weirdest -- the blobfish.
Remoteness, however, has not left the oceans and their inhabitants unaffected by humans, with overfishing, climate change and pollution destabilizing marine environments across the world.
Many marine scientists consider overfishing to be the greatest of these threats. The Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international survey of ocean life completed in 2010, estimated that 90% of the big fish had disappeared from the world's oceans, victims primarily of overfishing.
"Anywhere you go and try to harvest fish with a trawl you are going to destroy any coral that lives there, and there is example after example of the damage that is done by trawlers," says Ron O'Dor, a senior scientist on the Census of Marine Life.
"If I ruled the world, they would be banned, they're just such a destructive method of catching fish. Fishermen have other methods, such as long-line, that cause far less damage.
"The disturbing truth is that humans are having unrecognized impacts on every part of the ocean, and there is much we have not seen that will disappear before we ever get a chance," says O'Dor, who is also a professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.
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