Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Use of sound science in managing oceans
For those who care most about environmental damage and its effects on the health and welfare of communities, their focus is on land-based threats. This is so because that is where harm can be most easily observed, and where its causes are readily identified. However, this ignores the vast damage that human activity has also inflicted on the planet's largest, and possibly most valuable, resource: its oceans. Oceans cover nearly three quarters of the Earth's surface, contain 80 per cent of its living organisms, and deliver 60 per cent of the dietary protein in tropical developing countries. The services that oceans provide are now under threat from human activities ranging from severe over-fishing to mineral extraction, and from the impacts of acidification to global warming. An essential component of any strategy to protect the oceans — and to ensure sustainable development of their resources — is effective, science-based management. This, in turn, requires reliable data on which to base sound policy decisions (as well as an appropriate balance between science and traditional local knowledge).