marine ecosystem research
All over the world, scientists are studying the impact that commercial fishing has on the ecosystem, and the impact that various marine conditions may have on fishing.One of the oldest foundations for Costal Ecosystem research is NOAA. Since 1885, NOAA has studied the coastal waters of the United States. The Lenfest Ocean Program is another group of researchers from the United States. The Marine Institute’s Center for Fisheries Ecosystem Research (CFER) is based in the Memorial University of Newfoundland. From Europe, HERMINONE (Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man’s Impact on European Seas) are trying to discover how human are impacting the deep-sea environment. There are also independent consultants such as Cofad Consultants of Germany, who specialize fisheries, aquaculture, and conservation. Their work is international with clients in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
Why Study the Ocean?
Why all this interest in oceans and fish? Most people do not realize how important the oceans are, to economy, food supply and the overall health of the planet. In the US alone 28.3 million jobs directly involve the ocean. These industries contribute $54 billion to the US economy. In other parts of the world fish are the primary protein source for entire populations who would perish without it. All over the world nations rely in our mostly silent partner the ocean, which provides food, recreation, and revenue.
NOAA’s Dead Zone Study
The Dead Zone is an area in the gulf of Mexico, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, where waste waters often increase the levels of nitrogen in the water. The Nitrogen results in excessive algae growth. As the algae grows, dies and decays it depletes the oxygen, a condition known as coastal hypoxia. Coastal hypoxia is a decrease in oxygen levels in ocean water due to excessive algae. NOAA has become convinced that it’s primary concern is with costal hypoxia, and harmful algae blooms.
CFER and Sustainable Fisheries
The focus of Newfoundland’s CFER is on fisheries. Just how much fish can be safely removed and still allow for spawning and a continued growth in fish populations. They study spawning behaviors of cod fish and also investigate whether fishing interferes with biodiversity and the ecosystem balance.
Cofad Consultants of Germany are currently studying the cold Benguela currents off the southwest coast of Africa. The current pulls cold nutrient rich water up from the oceans depths into shallower waters near the shore. This current is vital to many of the species of fish and crustaceans which many developing nations depend on, both for trade and for food. The focus of their study has been Namibia’s coastline. They raised concern over mining wastes and those concerns were taken seriously by Namibia’s government who increased regulation on wastes from the diamond mines.
These are merely examples of the many studies, there are many more. Forage fish (small feeder fish) are being studied in Alaska. Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia is fighting to prevent extinction of species and instead to reconstruct the abundance of ocean life as it was in the distant past. Their goals are based on various choices we must make in the future.
The purpose of all this research is to save the sea and all the creatures in it from the impact of overfishing, pollution and global warming. In the future the ocean will continue to play a great role in the survival and prosperity of mankind, and it is vital that we understand and control the harmful effects of our global footprint on the beaches.