International Program on the State of the Ocean

The International Program on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) is currently compiling the Global State of the Ocean Report, which will collate world-wide marine science to give a comprehensive overview of the health of the Ocean. The Report is due to be published in 2012 but we already know that the Ocean’s health is in a critical state.

The organization names climate change, over-fishing, habitat destruction, extraction, pollution, and alien species introduction as the main factors in the destruction of the ocean waters. While cruisers may not be able to make a change to all of these factors, we can help by being conscientious and active in the battle against two of them. Hopefully, most of us are already properly disposing of our trash and not letting any of it hit the waters where it can hurt the marine life, but we also can make an impact on the reduction of alien species introduction. Often times when traveling between faraway ports, we can transport marine species and their larvae over huge distances and introduce them into alien ecosystems where they can add severe stress to an ecosystem and overgrow native species or introduce new diseases to the ecosystem. While this may not be intentional, it is something to be aware of and if it’s possible to avoid, any steps that can be taken to do so should be taken.

The ocean forms one of the key operating systems of our planet. It creates more than half our oxygen, drives weather systems and modulates the atmosphere, as well as providing us with vital resources.

IPSO says that the damage to the ocean is not as immediately apparent as terrestrial destruction, but it is just as serious. All of the stressors we have put on the Ocean — from over-fishing to pollution — have contributed to its ill-health. The situation is now so severe that we are altering the chemistry of the Ocean, with significant impacts on marine life and the functioning of marine ecosystems.

For more information, go to www.stateoftheocean.org.

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