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ZPG Report. 1996 Jan-Feb;28(1):1, 4.

The ocean blues. Navigating the course of population growth.



Oceans and their role in environmental balance are discussed in this article. Coastal waters within 200 miles from land are identified as providing over half the ocean's total biological productivity and supply of nearly all of the world's fish catch. Almost 3.6 billion people live in coastal areas or within 90 miles of coastal waters, which accounts for about 66% of world population. Coastal land areas account for about 8% of the earth's total land area. 8.3 billion people are expected by 2025 to live in coastal areas. 9 of the 10 largest cities in the world are located on coasts. 7 of the 10 largest cities in the US are coastal cities (54% of the US population or 142 million people). Almost all of the marine pollution is derived from land-based sources, such as sewage, nutrients, sediments, litter, and plastics. Mangroves in coastal waters have been reduced by about 50% to about 90,000 sq. miles worldwide. Global consumption of fish is responsible for depleting fish supplies and the loss of mangroves due to aquaculture of shrimp or other seafood. The US National Fisheries Service is cited for its report that 67 of the 156 fish stocks are overexploited. About 1 billion people, mostly in developing countries, rely on fish as their main food source. If imbalances in demand and supply continue, the rising price of fish and seafood will threaten the lives of about 1 billion or more people. Numerous international and national actions have been taken in order to protect supplies and reduce pollution. Sound resource management practices need to be instituted. Small and large fisheries can begin by reducing the 27 million tons of unintentional fish captures and by converting 29 million tons of fish used for animal feed into food for human consumption. Management of US coastal lands in most coastal states, with the exception of California and Rhode Island, is weak. Maryland has adopted a community-level approach for management of the Chesapeake Bay. Other environmental impacts on oceans are attributed to a weakened ozone layer, which reduces phytoplankton, and to greenhouse effects on sea levels. Phytoplankton is key to supplying oxygen, converting excess carbon dioxide into simple sugars for sustaining life, and supporting aquatic life. Overpopulation has a negative impact on oceans and their life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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