Global Ethics Corner: Oceans, Garbage, and Food

September 25, 2009

Can we regulate international space like the oceans?

Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation is exploring the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an immense swirl of currents that accumulates floating garbage from Asia and the Americas.

Garbage is a hallmark of human civilization, and much of what we know about ancient cultures comes from their trash. What record will we leave?

Plastic. We live a limited time yet casually build and discard materials that persist for millennia. The captain speculates that future geologists may detect a unique sedimentary layer—call it the Plastocene.

What effect does this have on our food supply? Fish are a vital component, but many are under environmental and predatory pressure. Wild species are being polluted and fished to extinction.

Despite growing success with sustainable fisheries management, illegal and unregulated fishing plagues international waters.

In the developing world subsistence fishing communities are hard hit when large factory ships park offshore and scour the region.

Will the consumer choose sustainably labeled fish? Do we need stronger international laws to ensure fisheries' security? How should we maintain the health and beauty of our seas?

What do you think?

By Evan O'Neil

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