Our oceans are dying
Napa Valley Register (napa news.com)
3rd June 2004
In a recent report from the UN Environmental Program during its annual conference, the spread of oxygen-starved "dead zones" in the oceans, a graveyard for fish and plant life, is emerging as a threat to the health of the planet.
For hundreds of millions of people who depend on the seas and oceans for their livelihoods, and for many more who rely on a diet of fish and seafood to survive, the problem is acute.
Some of the oxygen-deprived zones are relatively small, less than one square mile in size. Others are vast, measuring more than 20,000 square miles.
Environment ministers and experts from more than 100 countries learned that pollution, particularly the overuse of nitrogen in fertilizers, is responsible for the spread of dead zones. The number of oxygen-starved areas has doubled since 1990 to nearly 150. It's clear that unless action is taken to tackle the sources of the problem, it may escalate at an even faster pace. Presently, the world gets 17 percent of its animal protein from fish. That supply is now endangered on at least two fronts: overfishing in some areas, and these dead zones.
The largest dead zones are found in the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay off the East Coast, the Baltic and Black Seas, and parts of the Adriatic. Others have appeared off the coasts of South America, Japan, China, Australia, and New Zealand.