Wildlife populations in the oceans are as healthy as those on land hundreds or thousands of years ago. But this may be about to change, and the next hundred years promise to be the great challenge for marine life. Thus, the same patterns that led to the collapse of populations of terrestrial fauna are being reproduced in the sea, according to the conclusion of the research by a consortium of scientists published this Thursday in "Science." Over the past 500 years, nearly 500 species of land animals have become extinct as a result of human activity. In the ocean, where scientists have accounted for only 15 or fewer such losses, the numbers today are not as dire, but they can be.
The new document compares the course of the Industrial Revolution on earth with current patterns of human use of the world's oceans. During the 1800s, large tracts of farmland and factories pushed back forests and used resources that were mining and drilling the land. As a result, many land species went extinct. However, in the ocean, fishing continued to depend on sailboats grouped in small areas of water near the coast. "A lot has changed in the last 200 years," laments the lead author of this work, Douglas McCauley, professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology (EEMB) at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). , in America - Our tackle box has become industrialized. " Factory farms in the sea is one of the threats to the oceans that co-author Steve Palumbi, of Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California, United States points out. "Shrimp farms are eating the mangroves with an appetite similar to that of terrestrial agriculture, which consumed native grasslands and forests.
Seabed mining concessions are being pursued with the same fervor as the gold rush, and 300-ton ocean mining machines and 750-foot fishing boats are beginning their deployment on the assembly line to do this job, "he warns. According to the authors, increasing industrial use of the oceans and the globalization of ocean exploitation threaten to harm the health of marine wildlife populations, making the situation in the oceans as bleak as it is on land. As McCauley points out Now fishing is done with helicopters, satellite-guided super trawlers and the long lines that stretch from New York to Philadelphia. A MARINE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION "All signs indicate that we could be starting a marine industrial revolution," he warns. We are preparing the oceans to reproduce the Armageddon process for wildlife that we have designed on land. "
The work indicates as a possible solution to save more and greater areas of the ocean from industrial development and fishing. However, co-author Robert Warner, an EEMB research professor at UCSB, warns that those reserves are not enough. "We need a creative and effective policy to deal with the damage inflicted on marine fauna in the vast spaces between marine protected areas," he bets. Among the most serious threats to marine fauna is climate change, which according to scientists is degrading the habitats of marine fauna and has a greater impact on these animals than it does on terrestrial fauna. "Anyone who has always had a fish tank knows that if you put a heater in the aquarium and pour acid into the water, the fish are in trouble," says co-author Malin Pinsky, an ecologist from Rutgers University, United States. "This is what climate change is currently doing in the oceans," he adds. Still, as the researchers emphasize, the relative health of the oceans presents an opportunity to save them. "Because there have not been as many extinctions in the oceans, we still have the necessary ingredients for recovery," McCauley says.
The future of the ocean is yet to be determined, according to the authors of this research. "We can screw it up and make the same mistakes at sea
what we made on earth or can we collectively chart a different and better future for our oceans, "Warner concludes.