Today, greed, lack of vision, education and democracy, are turning our seas and oceans into underwater cemeteries, bereft of life, oxygen and colour. Our Mother, the sea, is growing ever hotter and more acidic with even less oxygen due to the effects of climate change, and becoming less biodiverse.
Ironically, the place where life itself began, is itself being destroyed in leaps and bounds by a relative newcomer in the history of planet Earth, or rather, planet Water, if we consider that 70% of its surface is covered by oceans which sustain life in this remote corner of our solar system.
Overfishing, chemical and organic pollution, illegal fishing and the effects of global climate change have halved marine biodiversity on the planet in the period from 1970 to 2015. This means that in just one generation, human greed and irresponsibility, coupled with their political, economic and social systems have plundered the oceans, catching more fish, crustaceans, mollusks, cephalopods, algae, mammals, reptiles and seabirds than is in their capacity to reproduce, while on the other hand millions of tons daily of plastic and urban and industrial waste, pollute and destroy their breeding and feeding habitats.
The main commercial species such as tuna, hake, bonito, mackerel and swordfish, show population declines averaging 74% while large predators, such as sharks, have declined by 90%, severely altering the oceanic food chains.
In some cases this situation is devastating as in the case of Chile, where the Jack Mackerel (Trachurus murphiyi), the principal chilean fishery or the Chilean hake (Merluccius gayi gayi) or “fishable stock”, the most widely consumed fish, have within the last twenty years, seen a decline of more than 70% of its population in the waters of the southeastern Pacific, one of the five most productive marine areas on the planet.
Let’s not forget that 15% of the world’s supply of animal protein comes from the oceans, where about 20 million fishermen, their families and communities depend on catches of fish, crustaceans and mollusks as well as seaweed harvesting.
Jesus did not simply multiply the five loaves and two fish, but rather divided them infinitely in order to share them with everyone and thereby performed the miracle in which there was enough for everyone.
This is one of the most effective learnings to the challenge of protecting life, since continuing with the extractivist logic of the never-ending multiplication of fish, will only mean wider overexploitation and maritime destruction. Only equitably and communally sharing with each other what has been borrowed responsibly, will allow us to preserve life in our seas and oceans.
Collaboration: Juan Carlos Cárdenas, veterinary doctor at the University of Chile, Director of the Eco-Oceans Center.
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