Magazine article E Magazine

An SOS for the Oceans

Magazine article E Magazine

An SOS for the Oceans

Article excerpt

In Derek Hansen's novel Sole Survivor, a band of plucky, environmentally minded New Zealanders triumph against a fleet of ruthless Japanese longline fishermen intent on strip-mining the seas. The book makes exciting reading, but in reality, those Japanese fishermen--and their counterparts in an international network that spans the globe--have the upper hand. Neither local law nor multinational treaty has done much to stop the wholesale, unsustainable harvesting of the seas. The collapse of fishery after fishery, creating vast underwater dead zones, is vivid proof of that.

The living oceans are becoming as vacant as a clear-cut forest. Consider the once-magnificent Florida Keys, as pure a symbol of nature's bounty as anything on this planet. The Keys today, write Ellen Prager and Sylvia Earle in their book The Oceans, are a shadow of what they once were. Most of the man-groves have been removed or filled to create land for construction. Ships, tankers and pleasure craft criss-cross the waterways, injuring manatees, spilling oil and crashing into the now-endangered coral reefs (also attacked by disease and bleaching). Turtles sprout bulbous tumors from a pollution-induced virus. Crabs, scallops and sponges are no longer a common sight, and it is now illegal to harvest conch, once a vital symbol of the Keys.

But Prager and Earle also see in Florida "a region where people are trying to effect positive change." A determined effort by grassroots activists, educators, eco-conscious tour operators and state and local governments is beginning to at least slow down the destruction. …

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