A few decades ago we were mostly anxious about industrial outfall pollution and fishing. These problems are still there, especially in the developing world, but we are slowly getting kinder and smarter in the way we interact with the oceans.
The types of pollutants we put in to the ocean have changed, with science finding linkages with things that we previously ignored like, underwater noise pollution, pathogens, microplastics and pharmaceutical compounds. Some industries and sewerage works still pump untreated effluent in to the ocean and plastic litter is a massive and growing issue. Soon there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. New developments still reclaim pristine mangroves, spill oil, damage heritage relics and bathe surrounding areas in dredged silt.
We often still fish excessively and with poor scientific data. Some countries still hunt sea mammals under the mask of “scientific research”.
In some sensitive areas, we love a natural habitat to death by trampling intertidal animals, changing the behaviour of wild animals and we displace marine life to make room for tourist infrastructure.
Despite the sometimes localised damage caused by these activities, the world’s oceans are currently undergoing massive and rapid changes due to one major cause. Above all other issues climate change, and the ocean acidification that comes with it, threaten the oceans in an unprecedented way. We are likely to experience massive losses of biodiversity in the decades to come.
The good news is that all of these problems have practical solutions. It is usually ignorance and the lack of political will that allow this situations to deteriorate.
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Climate change/Acidity and extreme weather events
Litter including microplastics