If humankind were given a mandate to do everything in our power to undermine the earth's functioning, we could hardly do a better job than we have in the past thirty years on the world's oceans, both by what we are putting into it-millions of tons of trash and toxic materials-and by what we are taking out of it-millions of tons of wildlife. Yet only recently have we begun to understand the scale of those impacts.
Defying Ocean's End is the result of an unprecedented effort among the world's largest environmental organizations, scientists, the business community, media, and international governments to address these marine issues. In June 2003, in the culmination of a year-long effort, they met specifically to develop a comprehensive and achievable agenda to reverse the decline in health of the world's oceans.
As conservation organizations begin to expand their focus from land issues to include a major focus on preservation of the sea, it is increasingly apparent that we have to approach marine conservation differently and at much larger scale than we have to date. What's also clear is the magnitude and immediacy of the growing ocean concerns are such that no one organization can handle the job alone.
Defying Ocean's End is a bold step in bringing the resources needed to bear on this vast problem before it is too late. It offers a broad strategy, a practical plan with priorities and costs, aimed at mobilizing the forces needed to bring about a "sea change" of favorable attitudes, actions, and outcomes for the oceans-and for all of us.
The first edition of The Living Ocean, published in 1991 by Island Press in association with Friends of the Earth, was widely praised by scientists, policymakers, instructors, and general readers as a useful and accessible introduction to the science and policy of biological diversity in marine environments. Since that time, much new research has been conducted and numerous national and international policy initiatives have been undertaken.With 1998 designated by the United Nations as the International Year of the Ocean, this new, revised and expanded, edition is a welcome and much-needed addition to the literature.This edition brings the volume up-to-date, and re-establishes it as an essential primer for anyone wishing to gain an understanding of marine biodiversity and how it can be protected. It provides an overview of basic concepts and principles and a review of relevant policy issues and existing instruments. The author:defines biological diversity and discusses the importance of threats to marine biodiversity reviews the current status of scientific knowledge describes the major coastal and oceanic ecosystem types and addresses the major threats in each presents a general discussion of the ways in which government and the public can protect marine biological diversity provides specific examples of national and international policies, legal instruments, programs, and institutions addresses how social, economic, political, and ethical considerations affect decisions to conserve marine biological diversity considers the involvement of citizens in developing ocean policy The book also includes a useful glossary that provides information about basic biological concepts, and a comprehensive bibliography. Throughout, the author emphasizes the relationship of human societies and governments to the living ocean, and the need to implement programs that will protect ecosystems and species.
Our oceans are becoming increasingly inhospitable to life—growing toxicity and rising temperatures coupled with overfishing have led many marine species to the brink of collapse. And yet there is one creature that is thriving in this seasick environment: the beautiful, dangerous, and now incredibly numerous jellyfish. As foremost jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin describes in Stung!, the jellyfish population bloom is highly indicative of the tragic state of the world’s ocean waters, while also revealing the incredible tenacity of these remarkable creatures.
Recent documentaries about swarms of giant jellyfish invading Japanese fishing grounds and summertime headlines about armadas of stinging jellyfish in the Mediterranean and Chesapeake are only the beginning—jellyfish are truly taking over the oceans. Despite their often dazzling appearance, jellyfish are simple creatures with simple needs: namely, fewer predators and competitors, warmer waters to encourage rapid growth, and more places for their larvae to settle and grow. In general, oceans that are less favorable to fish are more favorable to jellyfish, and these are the very conditions that we are creating through mechanized trawling, habitat degradation, coastal construction, pollution, and climate change.
Despite their role as harbingers of marine destruction, jellyfish are truly enthralling creatures in their own right, and in Stung!, Gershwin tells stories of jellyfish both attractive and deadly while illuminating many interesting and unusual facts about their behaviors and environmental adaptations. She takes readers back to the Proterozoic era, when jellyfish were the top predator in the marine ecosystem—at a time when there were no fish, no mammals, and no turtles; and she explores the role jellies have as middlemen of destruction, moving swiftly into vulnerable ecosystems. The story of the jellyfish, as Gershwin makes clear, is also the story of the world’s oceans, and Stung! provides a unique and urgent look at their inseparable histories—and future.