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10 of the biggest threats to the world's oceans

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Ocean pollution


The annual World Ocean Day (June 8) is designed to draw attention to the severe threats oceans are facing, from melting ice caps to overfishing. There is a host of events across the month — including the launch of Google’s new underwater Street View — designed to raise public awareness about environmental ocean damage.

In the interests of focusing attention and support on this area of conservation, the Blue Marine Foundation and Boat International are to give an annual award for ocean champions – celebrating those who have come together to research, find solutions to or publicise the ocean’s problems. The winners will be announced later in the year.

In the meantime, we have compiled a list of the biggest threats to the ocean – liberally sprinkled with the names of the ocean champions who have been working to conquer them.

1 — Pollution

Great strides have been made in addressing dumping of toxic and radioactive materials, but there are still seas with significant pollution. Major oil spills periodically cause major incidents. We still depend on the ocean to dilute agricultural and sewer runoff. Most importantly, the ocean is the world’s largest “sink”, absorbing about half of the CO2 created by burning fossil fuels. How we manage the ocean can increase that natural absorption rate. A ban on trawling below 610 metres along the continental shelf from the north of Scotland to Ireland could save a million tonnes.

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