The Plight of the Oceans

Posted on: February 24th, 2018

The oceans have always been a mystery to mankind, appearing vast, strong and resilient. This misconception leads to the belief that the oceans will always be teeming with life and makes it difficult to fathom that once-bountiful ocean life is fading fast. Unlike terrestrial atrocities such as mass deforestation, loss of marine biodiversity is primarily out of sight, thus out of mind.

The statistics are an alarm bell and a call to action. To name a few . . .

  • 85% of coral reefs have been severely degraded, with 60% of remaining reefs likely to be destroyed within the next 30 years.
  • At least 1 in 5 fish – 26 million tons annually – has been illegally caught (that is 1,800 pounds of fish stolen every second).
  • An estimated 650,000 marine mammals die or are severely injured in bycatch or abandoned fishing gear each year.
  • Up to 250,000,000 sharks are killed annually by targeted catch and bycatch and shark populations have plummeted by over 90% in the last 40 years, leaving one quarter of all shark species threatened with extinction.
  • Omnipresent plastic - there may be more of it than fish in the oceans by 2050.

How did such astounding statistics reach these levels without making headlines – without becoming a top public priority? It is a matter of “shifting baselines.”

A term described by marine biologist Dr. Daniel Pauly, “shifting baselines” means that each generation views a poorer natural world as the new “normal.” For example, our grandfathers will have seen larger numbers and varieties of marine life than our fathers witnessed. Our fathers, in turn, may have seen populations decrease during their own lifetimes, but may not realize the extent to which those populations have declined from levels witnessed by their ancestors. By our generation, populations and biodiversity have decreased significantly. These lower values become the new “normal” of our generation, and the baselines by which conservation goals are inaccurately set.

At Sea Shepherd Legal, we demand results far beyond ill-conceived conservation baselines. We are committed to turning the tide, reversing the statistics, and fully revitalizing marine wildlife populations and habitats. We have designed our programs and planned our campaigns to achieve those goals.

Stand at the helm with Sea Shepherd Legal as we Secure Justice for the Sea.

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