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How can we create a global approach to protecting the oceans?

The oceans are critical to our survival as a species and to life on Earth as we know it. From a human perspective, the developing world gets 40% of its protein from the Sea, we use it for commerce: shipping, for travel, the seas are a potential international security problem and a massive part of the smuggling issue. There are many policies and ways in which the seas are regulated, but frequently they are ignored and ill-policed. We need a holistic agreement and method for bringing together the different bodies and initiatives to ensure global awareness and protection of the seas.

Photo of Nathan Waterhouse
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Photo of Demian Repucci

Great concept question Nathan! So true that the world's oceans are utterly important in so many regards. And very ill-treated and ill-considered. And, yes, the laws and treaties you mentioned meant to broadly govern the oceans seem ineffectual at best. I wonder if one of the main issues to consider in thinking about your question is the method of monitoring. The ocean areas tend to be so big and the resources available to police them so limited that a lot, evidently, goes on unnoticed. Or some things at least. For example we can track the migratory patterns of humpback whales, measure the rate of melting at the polar ice caps and watch from above as hurricanes form. But we have no idea where the Somali pirates are at any given time or when they will strike valuable freight vessels next. Or from what land the largest amounts of polluted water and waste material are being dumped into the ocean.
Would it be possible to construct an internationally run network of satellites that monitors every single boat on the world's oceans and waterways just as air traffic control systems monitor all flights at all times?
The other big question that I care very much about, as noted in my 'Plastic Bag Problem' concept, is what do we do about the immense amount of trash and pollution already in the water? The middle of the Pacific ocean is reported to be a swirling galaxy of plastic debris. And it is only getting worse. Should a massive clean-up effort be undertaken? Or can we just leave it and try to do better by polluting less in the future? Questions, I think, that need to be asked.
Anyway, I could go on and on but I am glad you added this concept question to the list. It is a very important one. Thanks!

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