One problem is that fisheries often target what scientists call BOFFFFs: big, old, fat, fecund, female fish. Their large bodies are prized by fishers, but BOFFFFs are a vital source of new baby fish. Take these away and the size spectrum quickly veers out of kilter. One way to manage this is to encourage the fishing industry to target medium-size fish, allowing mature ones to replenish depleted populations.
“The overall big picture here is that surface water carbon dioxide levels are indeed increasing in the Gulf of Mexico (except in the central Gulf) and human activities are contributing to this acidification,” says Shamberger. “Also, coastal acidification is occurring faster than open ocean acidification, which is especially troubling for coastal coral reef and shellfish ecosystems that support many important fisheries species.”
Balmy temperatures can lead to conditions perfect for the spread of infectious diseases, Sanderson said. When sea ice melts too early in the season, seal pups must enter the water before they are ready to be weaned, leaving them weaker and more vulnerable to disease. Vanishing sea ice also means that seals and sea lions in cold regions will have less space to emerge from the water to rest, breed, or escape predators, forcing them to crowd more tightly together.
In 2017, 34.2% of the fish stocks of the world’s marine fisheries were classified as overfished, a “continuous increasing trend” since 1974 when it stood at just 10%.
“We are at a point where we can choose between a legacy of a resilient and vibrant ocean or an irreversibly disrupted ocean,” Carlos Duarte, a marine biologists at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and lead author of the new research, said in a statement.
(Vaquitas are) the world’s most rare marine animal, and it’s “on the edge of extinction,” WWF says.
Only 10 individuals are still living in Mexico — and it has already been declared “functionally extinct.”
The report makes clear that to protect the ocean, we must first reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But we must also reduce ocean stress, caused by overfishing and pollution, so the ocean is healthy enough to weather the changes already underway.
“The bottom line is that we need the ocean. And right now, the ocean needs us,” said Julie Packard, executive director of the Aquarium. “It’s not too late to take courageous climate action and safeguard the ocean from further damage.”
What we commonly see accumulating at the sea surface is “less than the tip of the iceberg, maybe a half of 1% of the total,” says Erik Van Sebille, an oceanographer at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
This loss of oxygen in the ocean is significant enough to affect the planetary cycling of elements such as nitrogen and phosphorous which are, “essential for life on Earth,” Dr. Laffoley said.
As the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to rise, our oceans are playing an increasingly important role in absorbing some of this excess. In fact, it was reported recently that the global ocean annually draws down about a third… Read More ›