Troubled Waters Statement

Aaron B Tinker atinker at
Tue Jul 29 21:35:21 EDT 1997

(sorry for any cross-postings)

When scientists speak with one voice, the media, the public and decision
makers pay attention. The time is now ripe for scientists to make a public
statement on threats to marine biodiversity and the need for action to conserve
it. The following statement was drafted and sent to prominent scientists who
offered many improvements and signed on. Marine Conservation Biology Institute
is now circulating the statement for signatures to marine scientists and
conservation biologists (senior scientists and scientists-in-training as well);
upon gaining enough signatures, the statement will be released to the media.

More than 400 marine scientists and conservation biologists have already signed
(partial list follows the statement). Timing is very important in this effort,
so please respond by email as soon as possible, and please include your NAME,
TITLE, and AFFILIATION. A copy of the statement is also available from our
website at - to sign, please send me an email (Aaron
Tinker, MCBI Program Assistant - atinker at

We, the undersigned marine scientists and conservation biologists, call
upon the world's citizens and governments to recognize that the living sea
is in trouble and to take decisive action. We must act quickly to stop
further severe, irreversible damage to the sea's biological diversity and

Marine ecosystems are home to many phyla that live nowhere else. As vital
components of our planet's life support systems, they protect shorelines
from flooding, break down wastes, moderate climate and maintain a
breathable atmosphere. Marine species provide a livelihood for millions of
people, food, medicines, raw materials and recreation for billions, and are
intrinsically important.

Life in the world's estuaries, coastal waters, enclosed seas and oceans is
increasingly threatened by: 1) overexploitation of species, 2) physical
alteration of ecosystems, 3) pollution, 4) introduction of alien species,
and 5) global atmospheric change. Scientists have documented the extinction
of marine species, disappearance of ecosystems and loss of resources worth
billions of dollars. Overfishing has eliminated all but a handful of
California's white abalones. Swordfish fisheries have collapsed as more
boats armed with better technology chase ever fewer fish. Northern right
whales have not recovered six decades after their exploitation supposedly
ceased. Steller sea lion populations have dwindled as fishing for their
food has intensified. Cyanide and dynamite fishing are destroying the
world's richest coral reefs. Bottom trawling is scouring continental shelf
seabeds from the poles to the tropics. Mangrove forests are vanishing.
Logging and farming on hillsides are exposing soils to rains that wash silt
into the sea, killing kelps and reef corals. Nutrients from sewage and
toxic chemicals from industry are overnourishing and poisoning estuaries,
coastal waters and enclosed seas. Millions of seabirds have been oiled,
drowned by longlines, and deprived of nesting beaches by development and
nest-robbing cats and rats. Alien species introduced intentionally or as
stowaways in ships' ballast tanks have become dominant species in marine
ecosystems around the world. Reef corals are succumbing to diseases or
undergoing mass bleaching in many places. There is no doubt that the sea's
biological diversity and integrity are in trouble.

To reverse this trend and avert even more widespread harm to marine species
and ecosystems, we urge citizens and governments worldwide to take the
following five steps:
1. Identify and provide effective protection to all populations of marine
   species that are significantly depleted or declining, take all measures
   necessary to allow their recovery, minimize bycatch, end all subsidies that
   encourage overfishing and ensure that use of marine species is sustainable
   in perpetuity.
2. Increase the number and effectiveness of marine protected areas so that
   20% of Exclusive Economic Zones and the High Seas are protected from threats
   by the Year 2020.
3. Ameliorate or stop fishing methods that undermine sustainability by harming
   the habitats of economically valuable marine species and the species they
   use for food and shelter.
4. Stop physical alteration of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems
   that harms the sea, minimize pollution discharged at sea or entering the sea
   from the land, curtail introduction of alien marine species and prevent
   further atmospheric changes that threaten marine species and ecosystems.
5. Provide sufficient resources to encourage natural and social scientists to
   undertake marine conservation biology research needed to protect, restore
   and sustainably use life in the sea.

Nothing happening on Earth threatens our security more than the destruction
of our living systems. The situation is so serious that leaders and
citizens cannot afford to wait even a decade to make major progress toward
these goals. To maintain, restore and sustainably use the sea's biological
diversity and the essential products and services that it provides, we must
act now.

**end of statement**  A few of the over 400 endorsements gathered include:
Jane Lubchenco, Michael Soule, Jim Carlton, Sylvia Earle, Jon Lien, Elliott
Norse, Robert Paine, Winston Ponder, Stephen Palumbi, Carl Safina, Paul
Dayton, Gary Meffe, John Ogden, Jeff McNeely, Victorin Mallet, Judith and
Fred Grassle, George Rabb, Jeff Levinton, Les Watling, Liana and  John
McManus, Dee Boersma, Les Kaufman, Bruce Robison, Dennis Murphy, Paul
Ehrlich, Elizabeth Flint, Julia Parrish, Richard Brusca, Don McAllister,
Rod Fujita, Cheryl Ann Butman, Gary Davis, John Terborgh, Ed Bowlby, Joshua
Sladek Nowlis, Michelle Paddack, Callum Roberts, Anson Hines, Chris Glass,
Monte Hummel, JoAnn Burkholder, Andrew Cohen, Jeremy Jackson, Yuvenaly
Zaitsev, Sabine Jessen, Deborah Crouse, Jack Sobel, Robert Spies, Katherine
Ralls, Larry Dill, Judith Weis, Nancy Turner, Peter Auster, Michelle Wood,
Timothy Werner, Stuart Pimm, Bruce Menge, Marjorie Reaka-Kudla, Bruce
Leighty, David Schindler, Jack Williams, Devra Kleiman, Richard Harbison,
Shao Kwang-Tsao, Tundi Agardy and many others.

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