Did you know that the ocean plays a crucial role in human health? Not only does the sea provide us with food and oxygen, but it also helps regulate our climate. Unfortunately, our oceans are under threat, and if we don't take action now, it could have severe consequences for human health. In this blog post, we'll explore how the ocean affects human health, and we'll discuss some of the measures we can take to protect our oceans.
The is launching Healthy Oceans Too, a six-week campaign dedicated to connecting sustainable seafood's human and planetary impacts. During these six weeks, they encourage health-conscious seafood lovers to switch to MSC-certified seafood. Look for the blue symbol below whenever you go shopping for seafood.
The ocean is a vital part of human existence and needs protection.
The ocean is a vital part of human existence and needs protection. The health of our oceans is linked to human health, so we must take steps to protect them. How the ocean affects human health includes providing us with food, oxygen and regulating our climate. If we want to continue to enjoy the benefits of the sea, we need to take care of it.
The ocean provides food, jobs, and recreation for humans
One in six U.S. jobs is marine-related through the fishing and boating industry, tourism and entertainment, and ocean transport. Coastal and marine waters support over 28 million jobs. U.S. consumers spend over $55 billion annually on fishery products.
Eighty percent of all life on Earth is found in the ocean. It is the world's most significant biosphere and home to great biological and carbon pumps and food webs that control our climate and sustain us all. Fish provide 3.2 billion people with almost 20 percent of their animal protein.
One way we can help protect the ocean is by choosing sustainably sourced seafood. Sustainable seafood means that the fishery from which it came is managed to not harm the environment.
Protecting the ocean will also protect human health
A healthy ocean and coastlines provide us with resources we rely on daily, ranging from food to medicines to compounds that we take advantage of daily.
Keeping our oceans healthy is about more than protecting human health. It's also about finding new ways to save lives. The diversity of species found in our ocean offers great promise for a treasure chest of pharmaceuticals and natural products to combat illness and improve our quality of life. Many new marine-based drugs have already been discovered that treat some types of cancer, antibiotic-resistant staph infections, pain, asthma, and inflammation.
Marine life is in Danger.
Global warming, overfishing, and plastic pollution wreak havoc on our marine life.
As the oceans heat up, there is less mixing of arm water near the sea surface and colder water near the bottom. This decreases the amount of oxygen in the water, which means less life.
"Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable," said Alex Rogers, professor of conservation biology at the University of Oxford, along with the lead author of the IPSO report.
The underwater reef formations are built by tiny coral polyps that create limestone formations by constantly taking calcium carbonate out of the sea.
Coral reefs are the most diverse ecosystems in the ocean, housing millions of species. Rogers said that they provide ecosystem services such as food, coastal protection, tourism, and recreation worth almost $4 billion per year.
Corals live off the microscopic algae that dwell inside their tissues. Elevated water temperatures can cause coral bleaching, a whitening of corals when they expel algae. Corals eventually die, erode, and collapse from continuous bleaching. Dying coral reefs don't just destroy ecosystems: Reefs protect coastlines by reducing storm surge and erosion, helping the people who live on the coasts.
Until it's too late, we don't realize how plastic pollution is harming our oceans and food supply. A relatively manageable problem is chemical pollution from plastics. Plastic pollution aggravates the effects of other toxic pollutants.
Over time, pieces of plastic get ground down to microscopic particles and ingested by filter-feeding organisms such as clams, krill, fish, and sharks. "This in itself isn't catastrophic, but endocrine disruptors like flame retardants stick to plastic and get eaten by the organisms. With time, those toxins make their way up the food chain," said Tony Pitcher, a professor of fisheries from the University of British Columbia. Trash is being eaten by marine life and has entered every food chain level — even ending up in the seafood on our plates.
Overfishing is reasonably easy to solve compared to climate change and plastic pollution. Overfishing threatens food security for hundreds of millions of people and destroys ocean ecosystems worldwide. Simply put, there are too many boats chasing too few fish.
The fishing industry can't even sell everything it catches. Not only is the amount of fish we're catching unsustainable, but the way we're catching it also has serious consequences. As the fishing techniques have evolved to capture the most fish possible, they've also become more destructive.
Two main fishing techniques include bottom trawling and longlining.
- Bottom trawling is where giant nets are drug along the seafloor, picking up or crushing whatever is in their path. This is particularly damaging to fragile coral and sponge habitats.
- Longlining is a technique that consists of baiting thousands of hooks along mile-long fishing lines. As they are dragged behind the boat, they snag thousands of creatures typically thrown back into the water dead or dying because those are not what they wanted.
Protect the Ocean
Ways to help protect the ocean include reducing plastic waste, eating sustainable seafood, and supporting marine sanctuaries. Healthy oceans and productive fisheries are critical for the future of our planet, the survival of our species, and the prosperity of our country.
The MSC has been working for over 20 years to safeguard our seas for future generations.
When you choose certified sustainable seafood products that feature the MSC blue fish label, you are helping to end overfishing. Sustainable fishing means leaving enough fish in the ocean, respecting habitats, and ensuring people who depend on fishing can maintain their livelihood. This, in turn, helps our ecosystem. Each product purchased supports well-managed, sustainable fisheries working hard to protect the marine environment.
Let’s do our part by only purchasing sustainable seafood. Sustainable seafood supports healthy oceans. Next time you go shopping for your seafood, be sure to look for the MSC blue fish symbol!