Researchers call for better ocean stewardship

May 16, 2014

FORT LAUDERDALE-DAVIE, Fla. - It has been said that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about our own planet's oceans. That especially applies to the deepest parts of our oceans - depths that are 200 meters or deeper.

Researchers from organizations around the world who specialize in studying and exploring the deepest regions of our oceans have come together to pen a cautionary tale that urges we take a critical look at how we're treating our seas.

"We need to consider the common heritage of mankind - when do we have the right to take something that will basically never be replaced or take millions of years," said Tracey Sutton, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Nova Southeastern University's (NSU) Oceanographic Center.

Sutton, along with scientists and professors from California to Germany to the United Kingdom have written a paper published by Science magazine that calls for increased stewardship when it comes to our oceans. The paper can be found online at Sciencemag.org.

The paper addresses the many ways the oceans are currently being exploited (i.e. mining, over-fishing, etc.) and says that we have to "make smart decisions now about the future of the deep ocean." The goal is to reach a "happy balance" that weighs benefits of use against both direct and indirect costs of extraction, including damage to sensitive and yet unknown ecosystems.

"There's so much more we need to learn about these deep, mysterious places on our planet and our fear is some ecosystems and marine species will be eradicated before we even know they existed," said Sutton. "The deep ocean is already experiencing impacts from fishing, oil and gas development and waste disposal, and we are trying to get people to pause and see if there are better ways to do things before we negatively impact our seas."
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About Nova Southeastern University: Situated on 314 beautiful acres in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic, fully accredited research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at all levels. NSU is a not-for-profit independent institution with an enrollment of 27,000 students. NSU awards associate's, bachelor's, master's, specialist, doctoral and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields. NSU is classified as a research university with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and it is one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie's Community Engagement Classification. For more information, please visit http://www.nova.edu. Celebrating 50 years of academic excellence!

About NSU's Oceanographic Center: The Oceanographic Center provides high-quality graduate education programs (i.e. master's, doctoral, certificate) in a broad range of marine science disciplines. Center researchers carry out innovative, basic and applied marine and research programs in coral reel biology, ecology, and geology; fish biology, ecology, and conservation; shark and billfish ecology; fisheries science; deep sea organismal biology and ecology; invertebrate and vertebrate genomics, genetics, molecular ecology, and evolution; microbiology; biodiversity; observation and modeling of large scale ocean circulation, coastal dynamics, and ocean atmosphere coupling; benthic habitat mapping; biodiversity; histology; and calcification. For more information, please visit http://www.nova.edu/ocean

Nova Southeastern University

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