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"Our Oceans are in Trouble"

environmental issues I know, I know. Every week I talk about some problem we are having with our environment, whether it be on land, sea or air. The only thing I can hope for is that somebody is listening. I feel that the majority of the world population believes its not important or nothing is going to happen. Believe me this is far from the truth. We need to do something NOW! Any small gesture will help. Cut down on the use of cars, plastic bags, electricity. These things are very easy to do. Ride a bicycle instead of driving a car for awhile. Its better excercise anyway. Now what you don't know is that the Caribbean Sea (we are part of it) has been listed as one of the areas most seriously damaged by human activity.

A new study out shows that pollution from ships, climate change, and overfishing has caused major damage to our marine ecosystem. Scientist claim that nearly every corner of the worlds oceans have been damaged in some way by human activity. The biggest damage is caused by climate change. Our Oceans are getting warmer. As carbon dioxide is absorbed the waters are becoming acidic.

Another scientific statement. 80% of the worlds ocean is fished. THAT'S INCREDIBLE! What does that mean? There are no places for the fish to hide. As I mentioned in my article a few weeks ago 'Ocean Noise', shipping traffic is the third largest cause of damage. If you look at a shipping map, there is a solid coverage of traffic over the world's oceans.

environmental issues An estimated 100 million tonnes of trash is floating in the middle of the North Pacific. This stretches for thousands of kilometers - north of Hawaii to Japan - everything from fishing gear to plastic bags ....you name it.

Did you know that almost a half billion people live within 60 miles of coral reefs. They benefit from fishing, wave and storm surge protection and of course tourist income.

So what does all this mean to a normal person living here in St. Maarten. It means alot. As most of you know lam a diver. lam out on our ocean almost daily. I can tell you first hand that our reefs are not the same as they were 30 years ago. You say, this is to be expected. Not so. They should be better. Elkhorn coral gardens are virtually nonexistent, not due to human traffic, but because of hurricanes. However, hurricanes are not completely at fault. We have reefs that have been covered in sand and debri from bad weather but this debri and sand comes from somewhere. Coastal runoff. There has to be strict laws in place for those companies building projects along our coast, to make sure that during bad weather they are not creating water pollution. One of the best ways to protect our ocean and coastal areas is through a Marine Park. The sad fact is that less than 1% of the ocean is protected. By preserving special places in our ocean, allows the marine animals a safe place to live and reproduce.

Establishing a strong marine park system is the best way to ensure the oceans ability to restore its extraordinary diversity of life. Its obvious. Help our environment and everybody wins!