Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Save Our Oceans

Ralph Nader

Millions of Americans will enjoy the ocean beaches this coming weekend. Tens of millions live within a few miles of the Atlantic and the Pacific. Yet if they could, these oceans would be crying out for help.

Just a few days ago, another foreboding peril was documented connecting global warming with the accelerating deterioration of coral reefs around the world - a critical sanctuary for marine life.

Torrents of chemical and other poisonous runoffs into the oceans have led to "dead zones" where only some of the smallest marine organisms can survive. These areas are created in significant part by synthetic nitrogen fertilizers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, for example, and nourishing massive algal blooms which then decay and cause oxygen-depleted "dead zones."

Corporate industrial agriculture is a major source of pollution of fisheries, such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Note the sequence. Huge animal feed operations for cattle, poultry, and hogs produce animal wastes laden with agrichemicals and agridrug residues. They harm the ocean fisheries that then are consumed, at a diminishing rate, by men, women, and children. Pregnant women are warned about eating swordfish routinely, for instance, due to mercury contamination.

As wild fish are reduced in number by overfishing and contamination, corporations erect fish farms and fill them with all kinds of drugs and pesticides to keep the domestic fish alive long enough in this artificial environment to be harvested. Salmon farms exemplify this problem.

Along comes David Helvarg, author of the engrossing "Blue Frontier," with a beautiful paperback titled "Fifty Ways to Save the Ocean" (www.innerocean.com) that lays out your role in saving this great ecosystem of the Planet Earth.

These include, number 37, working to create wilderness parks under the sea (George W. Bush just decreed one off the Hawaiian Islands) that are off limits to exploitation, as well as supporting marine education in our schools, number 42.

Other "ways" are "what fish you should and shouldn't eat and which are endangered or could impact your health; how saving energy can help save the sea; proper diving, surfing, and tide pool etiquette," and joining in a "coastal cleanup."

Helvarg, founder of the citizen group, Blue Frontier (www.bluefront.org) took his "50 Ways" book on tour along one coastal community after another a few weeks ago. He received a great reception by the growing number of "seaweed activists" who know Helvarg because he either dove into the oceans with them or compiled their groups in his groundbreaking "Ocean and Coastal Conservation Guide 2005-2006" (Island Press), the Blue Movement Directory.

Few people understand how intricately critical are the oceans to life on the earth part of the Planet. Even fewer know how fragile a variety of conditions are in the Oceans which are daily being battered by man's effusions (e.g., plastic trash) and predations, (e.g., industrial overfishing).

One study concluded that the Big Fish in the oceans are down by 90%. They have been hunted or destroyed one way or another. The total ocean catch has been declining for several years.

Enjoy, enjoy the oceans, urges Helvarg. But do so with ecological wisdom, if only for the sake of your descendents. In his foreword to "50 Ways to Save the Ocean," Phillipe Cousteau writes "Each one of us has an earth echo, it defines our relationship with the planet and each other. . . . Begin creating an earth echo that you can be proud of."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and the author of "The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future" (2012). His new book is, "Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lies and Lawbreaking Betray All(2020, co-authored with Mark Green).

Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, "will go directly into the pockets" of Big Pharma shareholders.

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


Darnella Frazier Receives Pulitzer Special Citation 'for Courageously Recording the Murder of George Floyd'

"Without Darnella, Derek Chauvin never would have been tried and George Floyd would have been blamed by the state for his own death."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


'We Are Sounding the Alarm': Global Left Warns Right-Wing Fujimori Trying to Steal Election in Peru

"Fujimori’s only way forward to victory is simple: annul tens of thousands of already tallied votes," warned Progressive International. "Powerful forces are organizing to deliver this outcome."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


'Climate Denial Masquerading as Bipartisanship': Progressives Reject Latest Infrastructure Compromise

"Refusing to act on climate means selling out future generations. The future of our planet and the health of our communities are non-negotiable."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Conservationists Applaud Biden Plan to Reverse Trump Attack on Tongass National Forest

"Even if you live thousands of miles from the Tongass National Forest, you still benefit from its unique ability to fight climate change," said Earthjustice.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·