Conservation is incredibly important to maintaining our environment’s biodiversity and keeping our wildlife at steady population sizes. This is true for both our wildlife on land and in our oceans. After all, our oceans are our planet’s largest ecosystem. We once thought that the ocean was too big to be impacted by our actions, but in recent years we’ve found out that that is just not true.1
Why Do We Need to Conserve Marine Life?
The ocean is full of life. It’s a huge source of food for us, with entire industries and lifestyles built upon fishing and providing us with food that we can then serve at our dining tables. To achieve long-term success in these industries, maintaining marine biodiversity is essential.2
However, there’s been a decline in many marine mammal species. A quarter of them is at risk of extinction.3 A recent study found that in order to maintain marine biodiversity, a minimum of 26% of the ocean needs to be conserved.2
Without our oceans in a healthy state, we’re putting ourselves at risk. The fishing industry is a perfect example of this. People depend on the fishing industry for their jobs, and overfishing puts their own jobs at risk. For example, we’ve seen in both Canada and the United States, certain areas where overfishing caused the complete collapse of a species of fish that wasn’t able to recover. What happened next? The industry and communities that relied on those fish collapsed as well.4
Conservation makes sure that fishing stays sustainable for everybody in the long run.4 So, really, conservation and fisheries are on the same team.5
The Harm We’re Doing to Our Oceans
Many things are ruining the ecosystems present in our oceans. Some of them are:
Overfishing – this is when fishing occurs in specific areas and so much of it goes on that certain fish species may not recover.4
Bottom Trawling – this is taking a big net and dragging it across the ocean floor. This destroys habitats4
Real Estate Development – especially along the coast. This can cause algae blooms that cut off the oxygen in the water and silt can build up on coral reefs, which blocks the sunlight that they need.6
Pollution – toxic substances can run off into the water.6
Cyanide – some use cyanide as a way to capture live fish more easily. It kills the reef and the other wildlife within it.4
Bycatch – this is when animals that aren’t the target of a net are caught up within it.4
How Do We Conserve Our Oceans?
Management of Fisheries – this helps make sure that sustainable practices are used and that we aren’t depleting our supply of fish to the point of no return.4
Eliminating Worst Practices – like gear that captures other species on accident, bottom trawling, and cyanide fishing.4
Communication – this is exemplified through the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which enables the communication between governments to help create and maintain sustainability.4
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – these are areas that include sanctuaries, conservation areas, refuges, management areas for fisheries, and more. Many of these are already established, but establishing more can help habitats recover.6
Marine Reserves – these are areas in which activities that affect the habitat, like fishing or mineral extraction, aren’t allowed. These areas are thought to help more than MPAs.6
Marine life is just as important as wildlife on land. Sustainability is the key to keeping everything working together as it should, without overconsuming our resources.
Our work at the Wolf Center is done with together in mind. After all, we know it’s possible to coexist with predators like wolves without it needing to end in violence. Conservation and sustainability make way for a healthy relationship with our environment and the animals within it. It sets us up for long-term success.
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Best to you!
Chris & The WERC Team
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