“A massive amount of death is plaguing the world’s oceans,” writes VICE News’ Aaron Cantú.
(Photocredit: Franck Robichon/EPA)
The WWF attributes the death to a “network of interrelated human behaviors”: overfishing, aquafarming, island- and ocean-based tourism, pollution, climate change, and offshore drilling in the oceans—read more about offshore arctic drilling here. As all of these factors accelerate—largely due to an increased standard of living rather than new human needs—the unprecedented levels of carnage in our oceans will not cease to exist (“29 percent of the world’s fish stocks classified as overfished and 61 percent as ‘fully exploited,’ meaning they have no ability to produce greater harvests”).
However, the oceans are not a lost hope: “‘If you stop taking the pieces out of these ocean civilizations, they can begin to rebuild themselves,’ he told VICE News. ‘It’s never going to regrow itself the way it was 50 years ago […] but we have to do what we can to stop the carnage and allow these systems the space to regrow.'”
“Marine species have declined by almost half over the last forty-five years, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Index, and leading marine scientists tell VICE News that the only hope of stopping mass death in the oceans is to radically and quickly transform human behavior.
Fish were the most threatened, in large part because of human overfishing: Over a third of fish consumed by humans measured by the Living Planet Index are under threat of extinction, with one family of tuna and mackerel falling 74 percent between 1970 and 2010.
Other animals that recorded massive and ongoing losses were sharks and rays, of which one in four species is threatened with extinction, and some species of turtles, which declined by 97 percent in the Eastern Pacific.
The mass death of larger animals is tied to the decimation of habitats that are critical to the ocean’s biosphere. The WWF also noted that coral reefs — which support 25 percent of all marine life — could go extinct by 2050, and global surface areas of seagrass and mangroves, which provide spawning grounds, nutrients, and shelter for many animals, have declined precipitously.“