20 Years of Depressing but True Stories About the Oceans - Oceana USA
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January 5, 2010

20 Years of Depressing but True Stories About the Oceans

A very happy birthday to E, the Environmental Magazine, which recently turned 20 years old. A lot has happened in the environmental world in those two decades, and a lot has also stayed the same.

This excerpt of their article retrospective brings to mind some all-too-familiar ocean threats. (Oh, and thanks for the shout-out):

“A fish in a net was the cover model for E’s July/August 1996 feature on overfishing. With the headline “Vacuuming the Sea,” the article reported that 70% of the world’s marine fish stocks had been heavily exploited.

In 1998, the “International Year of the Ocean,” E’s January/February cover noted that the ocean’s health was in decline, and with it the health of countless marine life. Overfishing was part of it, but so was the nutrient pollution from agriculture and runoff responsible for ocean-choking, dead zone-producing algal blooms. In July/August 2005 E wondered if we could “head off a marine cataclysm.” The world’s oceans, experts agreed, were critically endangered.

 So how are the oceans today? Activism, from influential groups like Oceana, and public awareness—giving rise to sustainable seafood charts—have never been better, but the ocean crisis continues. Fish are contaminated with mercury and mutating in response to pharmaceuticals in the water; the Pacific garbage patch—a gyre of marine litter full of plastics and other debris—is at least twice the size of Texas; ocean temperatures continue to rise, endangering coral reefs and aquatic life; and overfishing has resulted in the decline of tuna, cod and other popular fish species by 90%.”

The bottom line here should come as no big surprise to any of us. We’ve made some headway, but not enough. Let’s keep on keepin’ on. And you, too, E Magazine.