What are the major threats to our oceans? Why should we be bothered, when we do not live next to the coast? A few examples of what Mundus maris and many others are doing already to return the world's oceans to healthy and sustainable conditions. What more can be done in very concrete terms to make sure our children can still enjoy the beauty, awe, food and services the oceans provided to earlier generations?

These were the calling questions of the talk delivered by Mundus maris President Dr Cornelia E Nauen to the International Study Group meeting in the American Women's Club Brussels / Rhode St. Genèse on 12 November 2012.

Called by Mikal Edwards upon suggestion of Audrey Redmond, the topic attracted more than 50 participants, who followed the talk attentively. Mikal Edwards also opened the meeting, welcoming the people in attendance and introducing the speaker of the day.

The speaker highlighted three major threats more specifically. These are

  • The global fisheries crisis with its effects of destabilising and impoverishing marine food webs and coastal fishing communities, not to mention the impact on seafood supplies and food security;
  • Climate change with its effects on thermic expansion of the oceans, reduced availability of oxygen for marine gill-breathing organisms, and acidification affecting the ability of marine organisms such as foraminifera (plankton algae at the bottom of the food web), corals and others to form their calcium skeltons; and
  • Marine litter composed to about 80% of plastic with its many threats to marine life and humans getting the toxic molecules released from plastic in the sea back through the food web.


The audience asked questions as participants discovered many facts they had not been aware of.

It spoke to their alertness and practical sense that most of the questions focused on the implications for their own future behaviour and decisions as consumers of seafood and holiday makers.

Among the several suggestions for concrete actions were

  • to support continued work with schools and others in Senegalese and other West African coastal communities;
  • to support action by fish mongers to stop buying baby fish thanks to spreading the use of the fish ruler;
  • to support the protection of larger parts of the sea through marine protected areas with potential to help address all major threats at the same time;
  • to support e.g. the reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy to help implement and enforce international commitments to restore the oceans to a healthy state and promote policies enabling ocean restoration across the world.

The slides for the talk can be downloaded here.