Free chokehold on land and below water slaughter | Daily News

Free chokehold on land and below water slaughter

World Wildlife Day celebrations for 2019 began yesterday, Sunday March 3 under the theme ‘Life below water for people and planet’ for the first time since it was inaugurated in December 2013. The Day has now become the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife.

The ocean contains nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may be in the millions. Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at US$3 trillion per year, about 5 percent of global GDP.

Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. Marine wildlife has sustained human civilization and development for millennia, from providing food and nourishment, to material for handicraft and construction. It has also enriched our lives culturally, spiritually, and recreationally in different ways.

The capacity of life below water to provide these services is severely impacted, as our planet’s oceans and the species that live within it are under assault from an onslaught of threats.

As much as 40 percent of the ocean is now heavily affected by the most significant and direct threat of over- exploitation of marine species as well as other hazards such as pollution, loss of coastal habitats and climate change. These threats have a strong detrimental impact on the lives and livelihoods of those who depend on marine ecosystem services, particularly women and men in coastal communities.

This is the first World Wildlife Day to focus on life below water. It is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the breathtaking diversity of marine life, the crucial importance of marine species to human development, and how we can make sure it will continue to provide these services for future generations.

World Wildlife Day last year was celebrated under the theme ‘Big cats: predators under threat’. Over the past century we have been losing big cats, the planet’s most majestic predators, at an alarming rate. World Wildlife Day 2018 provided a platform to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species.

We are constantly being reminded by conservationists that healthy oceans and seas are essential to our existence. They cover 70 percent of our planet and we rely on them for food, energy and water. Yet, we have managed to do tremendous damage to these precious resources. We must protect them by eliminating pollution and overfishing and immediately start to responsibly manage and protect all marine life around the world.

We are turning our beautiful Oceans into a plastic soup. About 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the sea every year, and at this rate we face a future with more plastic in the Ocean than fish by 2050. Our plastic addiction and waste mismanagement is condemning countless marine birds and animals to death by entanglement or poisoning, and even leading to chemical contamination of the fish we eat.

The horrifying images of vast swirls of plastic rubbish visible on the sea surface represent just the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath are the masses of microbeads and broken-down particles of plastic that are easily ingested by sea creatures, and impossible to remove. The urgently needed solution calls for a combination of enhanced awareness, reduced plastic use, and massively improved waste management. That is because plastic in the ocean has a disproportionately large impact on ocean wildlife and habitats.

Small pieces of plastic eaten by fish, turtles and seabirds, often result in their death. Animals and birds can also become tangled up in plastic debris, leading to serious injuries and fatalities. Over time, plastic material does not bio-degrade, but breaks down into tiny particles known as micro plastics, which can be eaten by small marine animals and enter the food chain.

Tiny particles of plastic even build up in fish brains, altering their behaviour. Plastic debris often contains chemicals added during manufacture that can absorb and concentrate contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants. This pollution is extremely difficult to remove from the environment or trace back to its source. A growing body of scientific research and evidence suggests that these harmful substances can transfer into the tissue of aquatic species – such as fish – that are consumed by humans.

To help sustain healthy oceans we must effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.

Nations are also being exhorted to effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible.

Global warming too has made the protection of endangered species increasingly challenging. Climate change not only affects our plants and animals directly, through changes in temperature, but can worsen the impact on endangered species of traditional threats, such as invasive species, wildfires and diseases.

It is crucial that people and governments ensure that we conserve the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend. Although extinctions occur naturally, scientific evidence strongly indicates that the current rate of extinction is much higher than the natural or background rate of the past.

Habitat destruction by illegal logging, ever-encroaching human settlement, pollution of water, soil, and air and illegal hunting to supply the demand for skins, hides, traditional medicines, food, and tourist souvenirs all threaten species’ existence. Conservationists warn that by 2025 as many as one fifth of all animal species may be lost, gone forever. In recent times, hundreds of species have become extinct as a result of human activities.

Extinction is forever. We must act now and have our voices heard. Time is running out. We all extend courtesy and good manners and charity to our own species, but do we ever think about protecting wild plant and animal species and their habitats? So you will come to realise that nature conservation is important. In fact, it is essential. But it is not because we need to save the planet. It is because we need to save us from ourselves.

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