The Strife with Aquatic Life
The overall health of the life on planet Earth is explicably linked to the actions of human beings and the societies they live in. One important ecosystem that is negatively impacted by human interaction are Earth’s ocean and their marine populations. One out of every six jobs in the United States is marine-related, and over one-third of the U.S. Gross National Product originates in coastal areas (NOAA). Human life on Earth relies heavily on our oceans for transportation, oil, and food. Approximately one billion people, largely in developing nations, rely on fish as their primary animal protein source (FAO, 2002). Overuse and abuse of this vital ecosystem resource may inevitably lead to the extinction of the human species. Human ecological theories have linked human health and survival to environmental conditions, and realize we are a vulnerable part of the ecological system in nature. We will read how human actions have negatively impacted the delicate marine ecosystem. We will learn how the capitalist mode of production and the size of the human population have led to marine pollution and overfishing, which in turn causes a loss in the biodiversity of Earth’s aquatic life. I will illustrate the negative impacts of this loss in biodiversity and how an environmental focus may lessen or reverse this biological degradation. I will also demonstrate how certain social organizations have methods and technologies that may help in achieving sustainability of Earth’s aquatic and terrestrial populations. Marine life plays such an essential role in sustaining terrestrial life on Earth, that protecting this important ecosystem is vital. II. INDUSTRIALIZED FISHING
One of the most devastating forces causing the loss of biodiversity in Earth’s oceans is overfishing, due to large-scale industrialized fishing. Overfishing occurs when fish are captured at a faster rate than they can reproduce. Fisheries have now started to return lower harvests. Humans have begun to understand that the oceans, which were once assumed to be limitlessly vast and rich, are in fact, both highly vulnerable and sensitive. A study by Myers and Worm (2003), found that only 10% of all large predatory fish (such as cod, tuna, swordfish, and salmon) remain in the world’s oceans, relative to their levels prior to the onset of industrial fishing. The expansion of Industrial-scale fishing is not only endangering predatory fish, but also prey fish (such as sardines and cod), which are food for the whole ecosystem, including marine mammals and birds. Given the rise in the human population, the demand for fish has increased beyond the sustainable limitations of our oceans. Even though certain limits have now been placed on many fish species, the population may never fully recover. Add overfishing to pollution, climate change, habitat destruction, and acidification, and a picture of an ecosystem in crisis emerges. Some modern methods have been created to ease the demands we place on wild fish populations, such as the introduction of fish farms. Fish farming, or aquaculture, usually involves the raising of fish in manmade tanks or enclosures on land and in water. Although some types of fish farms may help the depletion of wild fish populations, others may exacerbate the problem. For instance, if the type of fish being farmed are vegetarian, the environmental impact is minimized. However, carnivorous fish farming requires the consumption of prey fish, which are usually harvested from an already exhausted ocean population. It can take more than 5 pounds of prey fish from the ocean to produce and sustain just 1 pound of farmed salmon (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011). Also, terrestrial or land based aquaculture introduces large quantities of sediment, nutrients, and pollutants into coastal waters from runoff. This aquacultural runoff causes widespread degradation of biologically...
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Social Science Research Volume 37, Issue 4, December 2008, Pages 1310–1320
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 2002. The State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome
Foster, John Bellamy, Brett Clark, and Richard York
Longo, Stephano. 2010 “Mediterranean Rift : Socio-ecological transformations in the Sicilian bluefin tuna fishery” Critical Sociology
Myers R. and Worm B. 2003. “Rapid worldwide depletion of predatory fish communities” Nature, 423 (2008), pp. 280–283
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) http://www.noaa.gov/ocean.html
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