Our seas and coasts are an asset with rich and varied resources, both living and non-living. They support livelihoods through marine and coastal industries such as fishing, aquaculture, energy extraction and tourism. They provide spaces for recreation, play and relaxation. For the many of us who live at the coasts, the marine environment provides a sense of place and identity. Indeed, in some locations, particularly small island nations, our seas and coasts define cultures and cultural practices such as ‘pearling’ (the traditional sea use of harvesting pearls from oyster beds in Bahrain) have even been entered into the World Heritage List. However, our oceans and coasts face many challenges (UNEP/GPA 2006). The Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill is a stark reminder of the dependence of coastal communities on healthy seas. Considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, the spill led to extensive damage to the marine environment as well as impacts on other marine industries such as fishing and tourism. Oil spills are but one threat to the marine environment. In 1992, the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, John Crosbie, declared a moratorium on the northern Cod fishery after six Canadian populations of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) collapsed largely due to overexploitation. In 2011, 28.8 per cent of fish stocks were estimated as overfished (FAO 2014) which causes negative ecological consequences as well as leading to reductions in fish production, with negative social and economic consequences. Dredging and trawling also has major impacts on the ecological communities of the sea floor. Other problems include rising levels of micro-plastics and waste detritus in general, water quality issues such as the impacts of agricultural fertiliser and pesticide runoff, the dumping of toxic wastes in the deep sea and the introduction of non-native species. On top of these sea levels are rising, oceans are becoming more acidic and sea currents are changing as a result of climate change. The need for improved stewardship of coastal and marine resources is increasingly evident around the globe. But what is marine stewardship and how can we apply stewardship in these environments?.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Environmental Science(all)