World Ocean Day : save our seas 6


Today is World Ocean Day. It is the occasion for me to write on how oceans and seas are important for Mankind as 60 percent of the world population live in coastal areas.

Covering more than 70 percent of Earth, water bodies are the home of many species but are threatened in many ways, and this in staggering amounts.

This is a major source of concerns as they represent major resources. I propose you in today’s article an overview of the main threats.

According to the data provided by Le Figaro Magazine ( Sauver les océans, February 17, 2007)

  • Six millions of tons of waste are disposed of in oceans and seas each year, with a multitude of causes, including residues from agriculture (mainly fertilizers which cause eutrophication) ;
  • 80 percent of waste water around the world finish in the seas (I don’t have any exact figure on how much that makes, but the amount must be huge) ;
  • It is estimated there are several millions of plastic bags scattered in the 361 million square kilometers of oceans, with one or two each hectare. This is a major problem as turtles and other animals confound them with food (picture right) ;
  • Even if oil spills – like the Amoco Cadiz, the Exxon Valdez or more recently the Erika – are impressive, they represent a very small part of oceans pollutions by hydrocarbons. Two third of marine pollution come straight from land, via rivers and rains.
  • If this wasn’t enough already, at least 75,000 tons of nuclear waste have been dumped into oceans between the Second World War and the 1980s. Still on nuclear waste, one has to take into account the 31 shipwrecks of submarines or plane crashes with nuclear materials involved.

This is now time to change this if we want to preserve the magnificent diversity and life of these places. If nothing was done, they could become lifeless deserts. The European Union is moving, slowly, but moving toward the right direction.

To finish this article, I would like to link you to the Cousteau Society which has been acting for the preservation of seas for a long time and as kid I watched Jacques Yves Cousteau’s documentaries with passion and wonder.

And you, what do you think of all this ?


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6 thoughts on “World Ocean Day : save our seas

  • Meryn Stol

    I think it would be more interesting to know who are the polluters (as in, which groups) and what motivates them. Not everything is pure ignorance, greed or negligence. There’s a world of complexity behind it.

  • Edouard Post author

    Well Meryn, oceans pollution originates mainly from us on land.

    So this is why we have to change our lifestyles to decrease our pollution and waste.

    Of course, shipping companies are playing a dangerous game when they let boats in bad conditions take sea or doing illegal stuff like draining their vessels at sea…

    Many thanks for your various comments, you are my main commentator. 🙂

  • Meryn Stol

    I don’t think it’s our lifestyle in particular that’s causing the waste. We’re not throwing stuff in the rivers and seas, companies do. The question is why. Is it even legal? And would consumers protest if they knew? I don’t feel like buying for a company that pollutes the sea, but how do I know who are polluting?

  • Edouard Post author

    Of course companies are the main culprits. By not recycling waste water, by dumping stuff, by letting their boats draining their vessels at seas…

    Agriculture too is a huge problem with fertilizers.

    But, I won’t be able to give the answer precisely. I am sorry, I lack data on that. 🙁

    I just can tell you that in France, and with French waters, these draining vessels at sea is seriously enforced and that the EU is moving on this too. Hope we will succeed in this endeavor.

  • Verda Vivo

    I think a lot of the pollution is either inadvertent or through carelessness. The “dead zone” in the gulf of Mexico is from run-off of agricultural lands along the Mississippi River. Unless it’s a spectacular incident on the nightly news (like the Exxon Valdez) most people simply don’t think about it. It’s a plastic bag here, some fertilizer there (including homeowners), washing your car in the street and letting it run into the drain. We also don’t see the pollution caused by people in areas of the world who are just trying to survive let alone be concerned about the environment. ~ Daryl