Oceans how do I rely on thee?--Let me count the ways. And almost all of them unravel when we overuse our oceans.
When we overfish, damage habitat, and pollute, we muck up the ocean systems that give us food, clean water, and oxygen. Yikes. In technical terms: the loss of ocean biodiversity undermines valuable ocean ecosystem services that humans rely on.
What's at risk? Clean water, safe beaches, and edible shellfish. What can happen instead? Toxic algae blooms, dead zones, fish kills and unwelcome invasive species.
This is the neglected message from the recent paper by Boris Worm and his colleagues that was more widely noted for it's projection of "the end of seafood" by 2048 if we don't stop abusing our oceans.
So the costs of ocean misuse run deeper than the loss of fish.
The good news? It's not too late. Ocean ecosystem services were restored by protected areas and fishery closures that restored biodiversity, based on 48 examples.
This is kind of a "duh." The risk is obvious when we blithely take parts out of ocean ecosystems and expect them to keep working. We wouldn't randomly take parts out of our car and expect it to keep driving it.