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FEATURED REPORT

Protecting the Oceans

- October 17, 2014
Can damage to marine life be halted?
  • Overview
  • Current Situation
  • Chronology
  • Pro/Con
  • More...
Featured Report

Oceans cover more than 70 percent of Earth's surface and are essential for human life. They supply much of the world's food and oxygen. Today, however, many parts of the world's oceans are overfished and polluted. Climate change is altering marine ecology, and rising water temperatures are severely harming shellfish, coral reefs and other resources. Excess nutrients from land-based sources such as wastewater and fertilizer have created hundreds of ocean “dead zones,” huge areas depleted of oxygen, where little or no sea life can survive. In the Gulf of Mexico, scientists are still assessing the effects on marine life stemming from the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Ocean exploration has fired human imagination for centuries, and scientists are still finding new life forms, many of which could yield new medicines and other valuable products. But experts warn that without better protection, ocean water quality, fish stocks and marine habitats will suffer long-lasting damage.

Climate Change

Scientists warn that ocean damage from global warming will intensify.

New Discoveries

An ocean census recently identified 1,200 new marine species.

New Pledges

The United States and other nations announced new initiatives to protect oceans.

 
1900s–1950sAs fishing industry grows and becomes more industrialized, fish stocks decline.
1960s–1970sEnvironmentalists in U.S. and Europe press for stronger water pollution controls and regulation of fishing and whaling.
1980s–1990sNations protect some fisheries, but others remain under pressure. Overfishing and development cause widespread damage to Caribbean coral reefs.
2000s-PresentScientists predict that climate change will drastically alter ocean life. Science-based catch limits improve some yields.
   

Should the United States open new areas to offshore drilling?

Pro

Andy Radford
Senior Policy Adviser, American Petroleum Institute.

Con

Gov. Deval Patrick
D-Massachusetts.
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