Ocean Dumping

Dumping waste in the ocean, seas, estuaries, or inland lakes is regulated by emission standards for abating pollution of the oceans. The concept of an infinite ocean (a mile and a half deep on the average around the world) has given way to the reality that the ocean is a limited and valuable resource. This resource must be protected, otherwise it can become like Lake Erie and the Baltic Sea, and irreversible oceanic life systems may create an uninhabitable environment for people as well as for marine life. To quote the famous French underwater explorer-scientist Jacques Cousteau, "In 30 years of diving, I have seen this slow death everywhere underwater. In the past 20 years, life in our oceans has diminished 40%".

Some calculations suggest that the cycle time of oceans (the time required for an ocean's waters to evaporate, form clouds, return to the land in the form of rain, percolate down into the groundwater, and eventually return to the rivers and back to the ocean) is about 2000 years. Cousteau was reporting only the first visible consequences of ocean pollution. It will take 2000 years to learn the total impact of the pollution to date.

Most scientists say that more research is needed, but in the meantime, caution is essential. A research facility (New York Ocean Science Laboratory in Montauk, Long Island) is emphasizing the study of ocean pollution, including the effects of organic matter and heavy metals, particularly mercury.

Worldwide, losses from pollution are due to reduced eatable seafood despite the addition of organic matter and nutrients.

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