A new study claims fish populations are dwindling at an abysmal rate

A study published recently by the National Center of Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), at University California and UC Santa Barbara, indicates an accelerating loss of biodiversity in the world's oceans with largely unknown consequences. Possible outcomes include an inability of the oceans to produce enough seafood to feed a growing human population, a decrease in the pollution-filtering ability of the oceans, which would result in poor water quality, and an increase in exposure to diseases, i.e. from poisonous algae species.

The study, published November 3 in Science, is the result of a comprehensive four-year research investigation. Scientists utilized a variety of research methods and data archives to see how the loss of biodiversity affects marine ecosystems. Analyzed data include four-decades of fishery information from the United Nations, observational studies of protected marine areas and core samples spanning 1000 years. In addition, over thirty controlled experiments were conducted. Scientists found that a decrease in oceanic biodiversity exponentially decreased water quality, rates of resource collapse, and potential for ecological recovery.

Furthermore, the scientists project a collapse, or 90-percent depletion, of all seafood types currently harvested by the year 2050. Fortunately, scientists believe the oceans might still be able to recover. They found that in areas where biodiversity was restored, productivity was increased fourfold. Behaviors associated with a loss of biodiversity include over-fishing, damage to coastal and aquatic habitats and warmer temperatures associated with global warming.

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