The Effects Of Over-fishing

Canada has one of the worlds longest coastlines bordering the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans and one of the largest ocean bodies of any country in the world. The worlds oceans produce more than half of the oxygen that sustains life on this planet.

It makes sense therefore that we do our best to keep them healthy. While the oceans ability to absorb carbon dioxide helps protect all life from the harsh impact of climate change. They are also the main source of protein for about one billion people around the world. And more than 200 million people fish for a living.

Once considered an inexhaustible source of food, our oceans are now in a state of crisis. Due to over fishing, which is the single biggest threat to ocean life, as well as poor management. Over the last 50 or so years many of the large ocean fish have been fished to the point of collapse, such as Blue-fin Tuna, Cod and shark. Today about 80 per cent of the worlds fish stocks are fully exploited, over exploited or depleted.

Bycatch, which is the unintended capture of certain non target species, is one of the biggest problems in fishing. Each year more than 250,000 marine turtles, 300,000 cetaceans and thousands of endangered sharks are trapped in commercial fishing gear.

Other problems are growing at an alarming rate due to shipping, tourism, oil and gas, renewable energy and also the growth of coastal communities.

All these things take a toll on our ocean species and habitats. Whats more, climate change is changing ocean temperatures and acidification. This is why we urgently need smart ocean management plans that protect important ocean ecosystems- and will keep all our oceans healthy. Unfortunately just 1.6% of the worlds oceans have been declared as marine protected areas ( MPAs).

These areas are important because they protect habitats such as coral reefs from destructive fishing practices, also protected areas allow the recovery of fish and other marine life that have been depleted from over fishing. While over 90% of oceans are open to fishing, people are now starting to realize something must be done in order to protect our oceans and all marine life.

But still many governments continue to subsidize their fleets, allowing unprofitable operations to subsist, and over fishing to occur. Today’s worldwide fishing fleet is estimated to be up to two and a half times the capacity needed to catch what we actually need.

The goal of Canada’s Three Oceans is to observe North Pacific, Arctic, and North Atlantic waters, and establish a scientific basis for sustainable, long-term monitoring. It is hoped we can collect relevant data over time, so as to allow qualification of change within the system for decision making purposes.

And hopefully over time make the right decisions that will keep our oceans healthy.

Strange Pollution In Our Waters: From Dead Zones To Trash Heaps

ocean-pollutionThere are hundreds of web pages out there talking about pollution of our lands, waters and other natural resources. Pollution has always been a problem. Our race creates new products, new foods, and new technology at an unfathomable rate. With all of this creativity comes waste, and that waste as often as not ends up as pollution.

It may be hard to believe but over 80% of marine pollution is caused by land based activities that lead to the pollution. Like toxic spills and untreated sewage. Let me show you two of the craziest found in our coastal waters.

The Dead Zones

Historically, all human civilizations have used water, whether rivers, lakes, streams or oceans as a place to discard unwanted items, waste products, and decaying food etc. It was a convenient, nearly unlimited space to rid ourselves of our junk.

Little did we know the repercussions of such short-sighted actions. Today, there are certain places in the oceans we have termed Dead Zones.

There is one Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The trash and toxic chemicals released by decay causes the waters to become hypoxic. That is a term for low in oxygen, and obviously having oxygen depleted water results in a lot of dying marine life. This is why it is called a Dead Zone.

Another monstrous Dead Zone can be found in the North Atlantic. Made up of man-made debris, it is very dangerous and yet doesn’t compare to the crazy size of the Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Pacific Garbage Patch was created by ocean currents essentially collecting debris. This sludge is mostly microscopic pieces of plastic mixed with chemical waste. It covers an astounding 700 thousand square kilometers which is an area greater than the size of France! Imagine that!

Sadly, other oceans have even greater dead zones and garbage patches.

The Refuse Piles

Some garbage is just simply junk we have no need for, and thus it was tossed out. This can be something small like a beer can like the one found on the bottom of the ocean, to a pile of beds or gurneys that was found just off the coast of an African country.

While searching for artificial reefs created by sunken ships, one exploratory vessel came across a collection of a couple dozen beds spread over a small area. Conjecture leads us to believe a cargo ship of some kind either hit a storm or was taking on water and the cargo was lost. Imagine 30 or so of these types of beds just sitting underwater some 150 feet down! Gives a different meaning to the term “sleeping with the fishes”.

What We Can Do

We need to act immediately to reduce man-made pollution in our waters. Every year 100,000 marine mammals are killed due to our pollution. Toxic chemicals brought into the oceans from rain-water and run-off are major contributors so we must consider organic farming alternatives and reduce the use of these chemicals and fertilizers.

We encourage you to do what you can to prevent further pollution!
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Some Things We Do To Keep It Clean

Canada has three large bodies of water that surrounds it. The Atlantic Ocean on the east, the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north. With all this water comes huge responsibilities, how do we keep them clean and healthy?

Led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada researcher’s, it is hoped we can enhance our knowledge of the physical environment and it’s relationship to nature. Research is going on all the time and data is being collected, this way the researcher’s can create an accurate picture of climate change and other environmental changes affecting our oceans.

What Are We Doing To Keep Our Oceans Healthy?

canadaEveryone knows the four essential needs of life, Air to breath, Water to drink, Food to nourish and Sleep to rejuvenate. Missing just one of these crucial needs, will result in your death. While we know the air we breath must be clean, are we doing enough to keep it that way?

The same applies to water, not only do we need clean, clear water to sustain us, but the crops we grow also rely on water. Water is everywhere – oceans, seas, rivers, lakes and streams. We use it to cook, bathe, drink and water our garden and maintain our crops. It is said about 71% of the earths surface is covered by water and the oceans hold about 96% percent of it all.

Healthy Ocean Policy In The USA

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While this site is primarily about Canada’s oceans and keeping them healthy, it is interesting to note that most developed countries have their own policies regarding the health of their coastal and interior bodies of water.

The USA has the Healthy Ocean Policy (HOP). It was signed by President Obama in 2009. This policy was enacted for many reasons. While there was always a policy in place, the US really needed a new one that provided a better means to approach the coastal and ocean management issues that we face now and in the future.

Canada’s Healthy Oceans Network

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The Healthy Ocean Network is a Canadian network formed to safeguard marine life in the country. Canada has a wide range of marine creatures that stand a risk of extinction with the rising industrialization and mining sectors in the country.

The network that chone.ca strives to be a part of is comprised of key policy makers in the sector with university researchers and government officials leading the way in efforts to conserve our oceans and the numerous living things on the ocean bed. This network brings together different marine capacities to address key issues concerning the use of biodiversity resources in our oceans without risking destruction of this important habitat.