September 11, 2008

Humans Pose Biggest Threat to Marine Life

THE biggest threat to marine life is not global warming but over- fishing and mankind's demand for water, scientists from the North will say today.

A study drawing on the expertise of more than 100 top aquatic ecologists looked at the world's water-based ecosystems, including lakes, rivers, tropical waters and Arctic seas.

The research, led by Professor Nicholas Polunin of Newcastle University, found man's serious impact on aquatic life will happen long before climate change takes full effect.

He said: "Across the 21 different ecosystems we have looked at, direct human actions have long been exceeding - and will long continue to exceed - the effects of climate change in almost every case. That is not to say that climate change isn't happening or is unimportant.

"Coral reefs are threatened by oceanic warming and the release of carbon frozen and buried in wetlands has major implications for the Earth.

"But the demise of fish stocks through fishing and decline of rivers through excessive off-take are just two dramatic examples of how people are directly changing aquatic ecosystems"

He urged the science community not to overplay the effect of global warming. "Climate change has got people thinking about the future at all levels, and the next step in our ecological planning of the planet's water resources needs to be more comprehensive, encompassing growing human consumption, its causes and consequences."

(c) 2008 The Journal - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.