Man’s damage is ruining our oceans say experts

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Scientists will renew warnings tonight (Tuesday 27 September) at a special event in St Andrews examining the problems of ‘irregular activities’ in the sea.

‘Irregular activities’ include the introduction of invasive species which displace natural populations, the spread of toxic waste and the culture of piracy and kidnapping at sea.

Researchers say that the illegal dumping of toxic chemicals, rubbish,  and  nutrients are among major impacts.

Professor David Paterson, an expert in marine ecology  at the University of St Andrews, commented, “It is incredible how much waste accumulates in our oceans and much of it should  be managed better.  We are basically using the ocean as a giant litter bin.

“Some damage we can see, but much is invisible, such as nutrients, chemicals, microscopic particles. Even medicine introduced  into the water via human waste can cause huge amounts of damage.”

Professor Paterson is one of an international team of scientists gathering in St Andrews for a public forum that is part of the World Conference of Marine Biodiversity (co-hosted by the Universities of St Andrews and Aberdeen). The team of experts will examine how we manage the new challenges facing us as we try to manage irregular activities in the oceans for future generations.

He continued, “In the old days people  would throw a plastic cup over the side of a boat and not think about it.  In the 1800s if you walked along a beach, it would probably be a good 100 yards before you found any rubbish; today it would be just several paces and often non-degradable materials.

“Now we understand the problem is more mainstream than realised:  The message is to safeguard our seas we need to protect them. This session will discuss possible solutions.  We know that man has an extremely abusive relationship with the sea, the question is how long can oceans stand the abuse we visit on them?”

The symposium Maritime Irregular Activities is held in recognition of the 600th Anniversary of the University of St Andrews and is open to the public at 7pm tonight at Parliament Hall, St Andrews.


Note to Editors

Professor David Paterson is available for interview on 0776 9955264.

Category Research

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