Troubled Waters

Aaron Tinker atinker at
Wed Sep 24 14:49:42 EDT 1997

 September, 1997           Scientists Speaking Out for the Sea 
(Sorry for any cross-postings)

When scientists speak with one voice, the media, the public and decision
makers pay attention.  The time is ripe for scientists to make a public
statement on threats to marine biodiversity and the need for action to
conserve it.  A statement was drafted by Marine Conservation Biology
Institute (MCBI) and sent to prominent scientists who offered many
improvements and signed-on. MCBI is now circulating the Troubled Waters
statement for signatures to marine scientists and conservation biologists
(senior scientists and scientists-in-training as well); upon gaining 1000
endorsements, Troubled Waters will be released to the media. 

More than 400 endorsements were gathered at the Annual Meeting of the
Society for Conservation Biology in June, and over the past several months
hundreds of additional scientists have joined on from over 33 countries and
territories!  It is hoped that this statement will serve as a ‘wake-up
call' for the general public and policy makers, and carry the message that
significant changes are required in how we treat and manage the oceans.
The sooner we can reach our goal the better, as 1998 is the International
Year of the Ocean, offering a unique opportunity to raise awareness for
marine conservation biology issues. 

For those who have not had an opportunity to read the statement, please do
so and add your name in support (confirming by e-mail to MCBI Program
Assistant Aaron Tinker is fine; his address is atinker at
Please include your NAME, TITLE, and AFFILIATION.  Endorsements are
considered as representative of the views of experienced individuals, not
of their affiliated institutions.

A copy of the statement can also be found at MCBI's website:

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

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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