July 2009. Oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface. They generate incredible power as shown by the Indian Ocean tsunami, causing destruction and despair in coastal communities. But beneath the surface of the oceans lies an extraordinarily diverse and relatively peaceful world. It is estimated that more than 1 million species live on coral reefs alone, and perhaps as many as 10 million in the deep seas. But this world, whose many secrets are still to be unlocked, is under siege. The threats facing the marine environment are numerous and complex yet less than 1% of the oceans are protected.
Seafood provides almost 20% of the world’s total animal protein intake, with this figure much higher in many coastal communities. But over-fishing is threatening the sustainable supply of this valuable resource and wreaking havoc on fish populations and ecosystems alike. Modern fishing gear now allows more intensive fishing in areas of the oceans that were previously inaccessible. Bycatch—the accidental catch of non target species such as sharks, turtles and seabirds is pushing many of them to the brink of extinction. Read more