CO2, overfishing and plastic bags threaten oceans

At the first World Ocean Day, the UN and the World Trade Organization (WTO) gave a bleak picture of the situation, denouncing the presence in the seas too many rubbish and exhaustion fish stocks.

The Director General of WTO, Pascal Lamy, has noted that some fish species face extinction because of overfishing and that government subsidies are partly responsible.

"Governments have contributed to this problem by providing annually about 16 billion dollars in subsidies to the fisheries sector. This support maintains more boats in operation, while declining fish at sea," says Lamy.

"The WTO members are negotiating now to review the grant programs and make the fishing sector of sustainable activity, " he added.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 80% of global fish stocks are under pressure or over-exploited to the maximum, significantly depleted or during recovery after overfishing.

Around the world, annual subsidies for fishing are estimated at 20 billion dollars or more, equivalent to 25% of the value of fisheries. According to a 2008 report from the World Bank and FAO, the economic losses due to overfishing is 50 billion dollars per year.

Carbon dioxide emissions involved in climate change is also mixed with seawater to form carbonic acid, a corrosive substance that dissolves the shells of molluscs and corals.

Last week, 70 academies of science among the top in the world explained that ocean acidification was so dangerous it could become irreversible for thousands of years.

The United Nations Environment and Conservation of Ocean marked the day by publishing a report on pollution at sea is the rejection of fishing equipment to plastic bags through the cigarette butts.

"Marine pollution is symptomatic of a wider malaise, namely the waste and mismanagement of natural resources," said Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Director General of the United Nations Environment.

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