Scientists warn that oceans’ marine life on ‘brink of extinction’


LONDON — The world’s oceans are degenerating far
faster than predicted and marine life is facing extinction due to a
range of human impacts — from over-fishing to climate change — a report
compiled by international scientists warned Tuesday.

The cumulative impact of “severe individual
stresses,” ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification to
widespread chemical pollution and overfishing, would threaten the marine
environment with a catastrophe “unprecedented in human history.”

The conclusions were published by a panel of
international scientists who reviewed recent research at a workshop at
Oxford University, in Britain. They will be presented to the United
Nations in New York later this week for discussions on reforming
governance of the oceans.

The report warned that damage to marine life would
harm its ability to support humans, and that entire ecosystems, such as
coral reefs, could be lost in a generation.

“Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our
activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effects
of climate change, over-exploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the
next globally significant extinction event in the ocean,” it said.

The marine scientists called for a range of urgent
measures to cut carbon emissions, reduce over-fishing, shut
unsustainable fisheries, create protected areas in the seas and cut

“The findings are shocking,” said Alex Rogers, the
scientific director of the International Programme on the State of the
Ocean, which convened the panel with the International Union for
Conservation of Nature.

“As we considered the cumulative effect of what
humankind does to the ocean the implications became far worse than we
had individually realized. This is a very serious situation demanding
unequivocal action at every level.”

“The world’s leading experts on oceans are surprised
by the rate and magnitude of changes we are seeing,” said Dan Laffoley,
the co-author of the report.


(c) 2011, Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany).

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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