Marine Biodiversity in Jeopardy: Do We Care?

Posted on July 31, 2011

By Ankur Garg:

Loktak Lake, Imphal is one of the lakes known for the migratory birds that arrive there. The water, the vegetation and on top of that, those birds just make the entire scene as beautiful as a painting. But, recently, according to a study, the number of those beautiful birds has fallen from 127 to just 44. The reasons are obviously the deteriorating climatic conditions and poor policies of the policy makers.

This is just the scenario of one lake. But, there are many more such lakes which are also facing the same issues and problems. The authorities though aware of the scenario have turned a blind eye towards the issue. The World Migratory Birds Day (WMBD) has been here since 2006 for creating awareness about the advantages of migratory birds and to save the endangered species of migratory birds.

It is not only about the migratory birds but also about the marine diversity. Despite its crucial importance for the humanity, the marine biodiversity is in ever-greater danger with depletion of fisheries being the biggest concern. All of us know how important fisheries are for the livelihood and food security of the people. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted though these statistics just tell half of the story.

One loophole in such studies is that they are unable to record the consumption of fisheries by the island fishers who don’t trade fisheries but consume it themselves. A recent survey on river dolphins in Assam has thrown up some disturbing facts- just about 240 of the mammals remain in state which once had over thousands of these. The problem not just ends with dolphins. Seabirds, turtles and other marine animals suffer trouble daily at the hands of irresponsible fishers. Commercial whaling has severely depleted the whale populations driving a few species to the verge of extinction. Coral reefs have existed on this planet for more than millions of years but we have lost more than 15% of those in the past two decades.

The reasons for the depletion stated above are simple enough to understand. The global mean sea level rises by a centimeter approximately every year. The global temperature is expected to rise by 4 K by the end of 21st century. Nitrogen and phosphorous are natural minerals but still 80% of nitrates and 75% of phosphorous in water bodies are added by humans.

Only a multilateral approach can counter balance the rate of depletion of the world’s marine biodiversity which has increased multiple folds in the last few decades. Governments across the globe are also taking these issues seriously and trying to bring some amendments among their laws. Environmentalists are working hard to combat environmental degradation. There are countless organizations located all over the world that are dedicated to preventing the global destruction of the environment. But, we have to also start the preventive measures at our level because if you want to see the change, then, you have to be the change.

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